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Between the Lines (USA)
Syndicated Radio Newsmagazine/Weekly Summary
Feb 14 News Summary: US plans for Iraq Oil; Unions Against War
1) Critics Charge Control of Oil Behind Bush Drive for War with Iraq
Interview by Scott Harris
Michael Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, assesses the control of Iraqi oil as a central motive behind President Bush's plan for a second Persian Gulf War.
2) U.S. Labor Movement Organizes Against White House War Plan
Interview by Melinda Tuhus
Gene Bruskin, a labor leader based in Washington, D.C., and
co-organizer of the new coalition, U.S. Labor Against the War, discusses labor's
dissatisfaction with the Bush administration on several fronts and the groundswell
of labor support for a new U.S. foreign policy.
Listen to RealAudio version of program:
News and Analysis
Impacts on US-UK Attcaking Iraq
1) Iraqi Water and Sanitation Systems Could Be Military Target, Says MoD (Feb 2: Independent, UK)
2) War Would Be 'Catastrophic' for Iraqi Children (Jan 10: IPS)
3) Toting the Casualties of War (Feb 6: Business Week, USA)
February 5 Powell Speech at UN
4) The Manufactured And Real Iraq Crisis (Feb 3: Z Net, USA)
5) UN cover-up Guernica hidden as US speaks on Iraq (Feb 5: Reuters)
6) Some Analysis of Powell's Speech (Feb 6: Institute for Public Accuracy, USA)
7) Robert Fisk: Don't mention the war in Afghanistan (Feb 5: Independent, UK)
8) GLOBAL MARKETS-Eyes on Powell as war worries hit markets (Feb 4: Reuters)
9) Britain Admits That Much of Its Report on Iraq Came From Magazines (Feb 8: New York Times, USA)
10) Recent People Press Surveys (January 8-12)
11) Recent Gallup Opinion Polls on Iraq
It's About the Oil...
12) U.S. plans war to control Iraq's oil wealth: experts (Sep 23 2002, Indo-Asian News Service)
On the Lighter Side...
North Dakota Found To Be Harboring Nuclear Missiles (Feb 5: The Onion, USA)
1) Iraqi Water and Sanitation Systems Could Be Military
Target, Says MoD
February 2, 2003
by Jo Dillon, Deputy Political Editor
The Ministry of Defence yesterday admitted the electricity system
that powers water and sanitation for the Iraqi people could be a
military target, despite warnings that its destruction would cause a
While military planners insist they have taken into account the
humanitarian threat in the event of hostilities breaking out, a
spokesman for the MoD admitted decisions may have to be made where a
potential target had a "dual use".
But any plan to bomb Iraq's electricity system will anger aid charities,
whose warnings were repeated by the Secretary of State for International
Development, Clare Short, last week.
Ms Short, who is to take up the matter with the Defence Secretary Geoff
Hoon later this week, said that "any bombing to take out electronic
capacity and thus disarm anti-aircraft capacity could present a danger
to electrics and damage water and sanitation facilities as a
"There would be the resultant danger that people would not have access
to water and that sanitation facilities would be even worse than they
are now. Clearly, preparations need to be made against that eventuality
so that the health of the people of Iraq does not suffer."
While the MoD would not be drawn on possible targets they insisted
"every care would be taken in all circumstances at every planning level
that all targets were military targets and there was very little chance
of injury to civilians or non-military targets. However, a spokesman
added: "I can obviously see the difficulty in this because a target seen
as a military target can also have, sadly, implications for civilian
populations as well."
Ms Short has warned that on top of the threat to the water and
sanitation system the Oil For Food programme would also be disrupted by
military action at a time when millions of Iraqis were dependent on it.
"It is a massive system and most of the people of Iraq depend on it,
simply for adequate supplies but in the case of Baghdad-controlled Iraq
for the very basics of human survival," she said.
"Accordingly, any action needs to be very organised and calm, ensuring
that the capacity of the system is maintained or a replacement system is
put into place very quickly."
However, the Government has admitted there has been only limited
contingency planning for the humanitarian effects of military action on
Iraq. While the United States announced last week it would make
available $15m (£9m) in aid, the British Government has yet to
announce any additional funding for the humanitarian effort.
Talks with Iraq's neighbours about the housing of up to a million
refugees have been non-existent, the Government has admitted.
And the United Nations High Commission for Refugees said last week that
plans are "in terms of scope ... not really on a large scale".
War in Iraq would have devastating effects on the country's 13 million children, many of whom are already malnourished and living in ''great fear'' of another conflict, says a new report by a Canadian-led fact-finding team.
MONTREAL, Jan 30 (IPS) - War in Iraq would have devastating effects on the country's 13 million children, many of whom are already malnourished and living in ''great fear'' of another conflict, says the report of a Canadian-led, fact-finding team released Thursday.
The document, based on a trip to Iraq Jan. 20-26 by 10 health experts, concludes that, ''Iraqi children are at grave risk of starvation, disease, death and psychological trauma''.
They ''are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of a new war than they were before the Gulf War of 1991'' but ''the international community has at present little capacity to respond to the harm that children will suffer by a new war in Iraq'', it adds.
The report's authors, the International Study Team, call themselves an ''independent group of expert academics, researchers and practitioners examining the humanitarian effects of military conflict on the civilian population''.
They include experts in health, nutrition, child psychology and emergency preparedness.
In 1991, they produced a report on the humanitarian impact of the Gulf War, based on 9,000 interviews in 300 locations in Iraq.
The team's backers include War Child Canada, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and its Canadian affiliate Physicians for Global Survival (PGS), Oxfam Canada, World Vision Canada and the United Church.
The team says it received no financial assistance from the Iraqi government during the trip.
The report's findings are based on data collected in three Iraqi cities - Baghdad, Karbala and Basra - interviews with more than 100 families in their homes and previous studies.
"While it is impossible to predict both the nature of any war and the number of expected deaths and injuries, casualties among children will be in the thousands, probably in the tens of thousands and possibly in the hundreds of thousands," Canadian team leader and medical doctor Eric Hoskins said in a statement.
The report says that Iraq currently has only one month's supply of food and three months of medicine remaining.
Titled 'Our Common Responsibility: The Impact of a New War on Iraq Children', the document presents findings on children's physical and mental well being as well as on emergency preparedness in the country.
Weakened by the effects of war and more than a decade of economic sanctions, 500,000 Iraqi children are malnourished, it says. For example, the death rate of children under five years of age is already 2.5 times greater than it was in 1990, before the Gulf War.
Because most of the country's 13 million children are dependent on food distributed by the Government of Iraq, ''the disruption of this system by war would have a devastating impact on children who already have a high rate of malnutrition'', says the report.
It adds that only 60 percent of Iraqis have access to fresh water. ''Further disruption to these services, as occurred during the 1991 Gulf War, would be catastrophic for Iraqi children.''
The team's two psychologists, Atle Dyregrov and Magne Raundalen, world leaders in the impact of war on children, carried out what the report calls the first-ever pre-war assessment of children's mental health.
''With war looming, Iraqi children are fearful, anxious and depressed,'' they found. ''Many have nightmares. And 40 percent do not think that life is worth living.''
The finding ''is powerful evidence that the concern for children's well-being needs to be considered in the decision making process about to take place in the United Nations Security Council'', says the report, which was released in Ottawa.
"As medical professionals, we call on all parties involved in the conflict with Iraq to insure the safety of children and all innocent civilians and to do everything humanly possible to resolve the conflict peacefully," said IPPNW spokesman John Pastore in a statement.
The report points out that the United Nations estimates that, in the event of war, as many as 500,000 Iraqis could require emergency medical treatment but that hospitals and clinics will run out of medicines within three to four weeks of the start of a conflict.
The report was also sent to the U.N. Security Council, the government of Iraq, and the Canadian government.
3) Toting the Casualties of War
Business Week; February 6, 2003
Beth Osborne Daponte talks about how her estimates of Iraq's Gulf War dead
got her in deep trouble with the White House
Beth Osborne Daponte was a 29-year-old Commerce Dept. demographer in
when she publicly contradicted then-Defense Secretary Richard Cheney on the
highly sensitive issue of Iraqi civilian casualties during the Gulf War. In
short order, Daponte was told she was losing her job. She says her official
report disappeared from her desk, and a new estimate, prepared by
supervisors, greatly reduced the number of estimated civilian casualties.
Although Cheney said shortly after the 1991 Gulf War that "we have
of knowing precisely how many casualties occurred" during the fighting "and
may never know," Daponte had estimated otherwise: 13,000 civilians were
killed directly by American and allied forces, and about 70,000 civilians
died subsequently from war-related damage to medical facilities and
supplies, the electric power grid, and the water system, she calculated.
In all, 40,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed in the conflict, she concluded,
putting total Iraqi losses from the war and its aftermath at 158,000,
including 86,194 men, 39,612 women, and 32,195 children.
"FALSE INFORMATION"? Daponte was finishing her doctorate in sociology
the University of Chicago at the time and had been assigned to update an
annual world-population survey by Commerce's Census Bureau of Foreign
Countries. That required her to estimate how many Iraqis had died from the
war and its aftermath, including the rebellion of Shiites in the South and
Kurds in the North (an additional 30,000 deaths, she estimated). Daponte
used a 1987 Iraqi census and U.N. figures as her base of comparison. (The
Defense Intelligence Agency eventually estimated 100,000 Iraqi military
were killed in the war, plus or minus 50,000.)
After a reporter called Daponte and included her estimates in a story about
war casualties, her boss informed Daponte in writing that she was being
dismissed for releasing "false information." A Commerce spokeswoman denied
that the cause of Daponte's firing was retribution, saying the information
had been released prematurely.
Daponte consulted lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union and
Covington & Burling. The American Statistical Assn. weighed in on behalf of
her methodology. Eventually, the Census Bureau backed down, and Daponte
continued her work until she left for Pittsburgh in 1992.
INDIRECT DEATHS. She has since published two studies in scholarly journals
about the effects of economic sanctions on Iraqi children, and casualties
from the 1991 Gulf War and its aftermath. Her final estimates were higher
than her original ones: 205,500 Iraqis died in the war and postwar period,
she believes today.
"In modern warfare, postwar deaths from adverse health effects account
a large fraction of total deaths," she wrote, an inclusion that continues
to be debated. "In the Gulf War, far more persons died from postwar health
effects than from direct war effects." And casualties this time, while
virtually impossible to predict, will depend on the kind of war the U.S.
BusinessWeek Washington Correspondent Paul Magnusson recently reached
Daponte at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where she's a senior
research scientist. Here are edited excerpts from their conversation:
Q: How, exactly, are war casualties estimated if you can't count all the
A: Demographers break a problem down into its components. One is civilian
deaths from direct war effects, such as missed bombs and misdirected bombs.
Indirect war effects come from the destruction of infrastructure.
There are direct casualties to the military as well. For Iraq, there was
another category of casualties -- people killed after the war during the
uprisings [by Shiites and Kurds]. The contribution I made was in looking at
civilian casualties from indirect war effects. It was hard to separate some
of these from the economic sanctions. But there was damage to the
electrical grid, health-care facilities, roadways and the distribution
system, and, most importantly, the sewage system. When you contaminate the
water, you cause all kinds of health problems.
Relatively few bombs missed their targets. I went to different human-rights
sources and created a database of death in each incidence of a missed bomb.
Often there were reports on who died. That gave us figures for direct
deaths. We calculated indirect deaths in part from age distributions.
Q: What's usually the greatest danger for civilians?
A: If it's a bombing war, being a refugee is the most dangerous aspect.
Refugees are in tremendous danger. Refugees are exposed to the elements,
bad sewage, cholera, outbreaks of diarrhea. The youngest and oldest are
most vulnerable and generally don't have the strength to begin with.
Q: After you were fired, you appealed and won reinstatement. Whatever
happened to your estimate of war casualties?
A: I took a leave of absence because I wasn't being given any worthwhile
work to do. I went to Greenpeace, and they funded a follow-up study. I
spent a whole summer redoing the estimates and submitted it to a
professional publication for peer review and then went to Carnegie Mellon.
What I had done at Census was the best that could have been done in a short
time period. By the time I went to Greenpeace, more data was available.
Q: Was your estimate of Iraqi civilian deaths confirmed by later demographers?
A: The Commerce Dept. rewrote the report to the point that if you'd read
it, you'd have thought it was impossible to make inferences about civilian
deaths in war.
Q: Any idea whether the civilian casualties in a current war would be
lesser or greater? What factors would be important?
A: There's no way to tell now. You'd need a crystal ball. If the allies
target infrastructure like they did last time, civilians will suffer. The
last time, we targeted the electrical grid and bridges. Even military
targets can have an effect on civilians -- say a plant producing truck
tires for the military is attacked. That can end up affecting civilians, too.
Q: Any views on the current crisis with Iraq?
A: I don't think we've exhausted effective diplomacy. It's very early. I
don't think war should be on the table yet.
Q: What saved your job in 1992?
A: The lawyers were incredible, but so was the social-science community.
Many professional academic people got involved and stood up for me. A lot
of [Census] colleagues stood up for me and went in and protested, even
though they were risking their jobs.
4) The Manufactured And Real Iraq Crisis
February 03, 2003
By Edward Herman
With enough power and chutzpah it is possible for an aggressive and
over-armed state to manufacture a crisis and pretend that the crisis lies
with the threatened victim rather than with the aggressor state. Today,
the United States has not only manufactured one crisis but two: The
first is Saddam Hussein's alleged failure to disarm; the second is North
Korea's attempt to acquire nuclear arms.
The first REAL crisis is the determination of the United States to
attack Iraq, depose Saddam Hussein, and establish a dependent regime in
that country, AND the failure of the "international community" to oppose
this blatant plan of aggression in violation of the UN Charter. The
second REAL crisis is the failure of the international community to
vigorously contest the Bush administration's announced plans to militarize
space, to abandon the Nuclear Test Ban and Nuclear Non-Proliferation
treaties, to threaten preemptive wars to stifle challenges to its
domination, and to refine and possibly use nuclear weapons. North Korea's nuclear
plans clearly follow in the wake of those developments, along with the
U.S. inclusion of North Korea in the "axis of evil," so that the North
Korean "threat" is derivative and miniscule in comparison with that
posed by the big bully.
There is a third REAL threat attributable to the big bully, namely the
ongoing serious ethnic cleansing being carried out by Israeli leaders
in Palestine, in violation of international law and in opposition to a
global consensus. This deadly process has intensifed under the
protection of the Bush administration's carte blanche to "man of peace" Ariel
Sharon and the diversion provided by the Iraq "crisis," and it may
escalate further under the cover of the U.S. attack on Iraq. This third real
threat is closely tied to the first, not only operationally but in
terms of intent, as numerous high Bush administration officials have "dual
loyalties" and are at least partially serving Likud-Israeli interests.
In the propaganda outpourings of the Bush administration, however,
their "patience" with Saddam Hussein has run out and, given his "growing
menace" (Bush), he must be removed by force. This "crisis" has been
completely contrived by Bush officials, just as the Guatemala crisis of
1954--based on alleged Soviet proxy aggression!--was fabricated. Every Bush
administration argument is false or irrelevant, and the "international
community" is once again having to expend much effort trying to appease
and contain the bully. However, that community has not had the guts to
straightforwardly oppose him, and the puny efforts to appease via a
revised inspections system have actually given him further weaponry--he
has "gone along" with the inspections, so what more can be asked of him
before he does what he planned to do anyway?
That Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) threaten
national security is laughable--even if he has a few such weapons (unproven),
he has no delivery systems that could reach the United States and he
may not wish to commit suicide. On the other hand, U.S. WMD not only
threaten Iraq but anybody else who crosses the administration, which has
even announced an intention to preemptively attack enemies of choice and
to ignore international law.
Saddam Hussein does pose a threat to his neighbors, but much less so
than Israel, which has more powerful armed forces and, even more
important, is under the protection of the United States, which has sanctioned
numerous Israeli attacks on neighbors, systematic ethnic cleansing in
the occupied territories, and Israel's acquisition of a large WMD
arsenal. Saddam can't make a move across borders because the United States is
waiting to pounce; but Israel can do so because the United States
regularly vetoes any condemnation of Israeli invasions and would not abide
an attempt to halt Israel by force. Saddam was generously supplied with
WMD by the United States and Britain in the 1980s when he was fighting
Iran, so apparently his possession of them is not inherently
threatening, but only when not serving approved U.S.-British ends. It is
well-known--though not reported and reflected on in the U.S. media--that the
United States seized the 12,000 page Iraq report on its WMD in order to
remove some 8,000 pages that detailed U.S. and other Western company and
official provision of WMD to Iraq in earlier years. Leaving that
material in would have shown U.S. approval of the weapons whose possession is
now deemed a huge menace, demonstrating that the pretense of menace is
Since the 1980s, and under the impact of war, sanctions and the
inspections regime, Iraq's military capability and WMD have been drastically
reduced, with high level inspectors claiming that at least 90-95 percent
of Saddam's stocks of chemical weapons have been destroyed, and the
IAEA contending in 1998--and as recently as January 27, 2003--that he has
no nuclear weapons or meaningful nuclear weapons program (Bush's
contention in his State of the Union Message that Saddam "had" such a program
and "was working" on methods of enriching uranium is therefore
misleading if not outright lying). Saddam's "threat" must therefore be much
much smaller than in the period when he was using WMD with U.S. and
British approval. That he now poses a "growing menace" justifying a war is
therefore a misrepresentation of fact and a cover for a semi-hidden
There is also the claim that Saddam Hussein has produced a "crisis"
his failure to cooperate with the inspection system, disarm, and obey
Security Council rulings. But the inspection system, like the "sanctions
of mass destruction," has always been a U.S.-British mechanism for
punishing Iraq until there was a "regime change." Numerous U.S. officials
have said that the sanctions would not be lifted until Saddam is
removed. This has been a violation of the original settlement agreement of
1991, which called for terminable inspections and made no mention of
required regime change. All participants except the United States and
Britain have felt that a 90-95 percent WMD removal sufficed; and it is worth
repeating that the partners who have disagreed are the ones who most
lavishly supplied Iraq with those weapons in the 1980s, and opposed any
condemnations of Saddam for using them!
The legal basis of the charges against Iraq is therefore fatally
compromised by the fact of multiple U.S. and British violations of the terms
of Security Council Resolution 687--including, in addition to imposing
the illict objective of regime change, the use of inspections for
locating non-WMD miitary targets (recently acknowledged by longtime
Executive Chairman of UNSCOM, Rolf Ekeus), the unauthorized "no-fly zone"
patrols and attacks, and the transformation of the sanctions system into a
mode of punishment of an entire people, with enormous civilian
casualties. The sanctimonious U.S.-British call for enforcement of Security
Council resolutions also flies in the face of their double standard on this
matter: Israel is not only permitted to acquire WMD, it can repeatedly
ignore Security Council rulings without any penalty whatsoever.
The imminent war is therefore based on considerations that have nothing
to do with Saddam's dictatorship or military threat. Key members of the
Bush administration had announced an aim of "toppling Saddam Hussein"
back in 2000 in the publication of the Project for the New American
Century, Robert Kagan's and William Kristol's edited volume entitled
Present Dangers, where Saddam's military threat and WMD were barely
mentioned, but the need to control an important resource-rich area was openly
acknowledged. These and other Bush administration officials have also
been notorious for their strong support of Likud and Israeli ethnic
cleansing, three of them--Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David
Wurmser--even having contributed to a strategy paper for Israeli Prime Minister
Netanyahu in 1996. The Bush administration's protection of Sharon's state
terrorism and the imminent attack on Iraq serve expansionist Israeli
interests well. This factor, along with the desire to take advantage of
military superiority to show the world who is boss, to firm up contol of
an oil-rich territory, and to provide a cover for Bush's domestic
policies, gives us the real motives behind the manufacture of the Iraq
There has been a desperate Bush administration search for plausible
reasons to "topple Saddam Hussein"--ties to Al Qaeda, aversion to
dictatorship and concern for Iraqis, Saddam's growing menace, evasions of
inspections and disrespect for Security Council resolutions, etc. But they
are merely excuses, some false, some trivial, all profoundly
hypocritical, designed to justify an aggression based entirely on other political
and strategic considerations.
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 5 (Reuters) - In a bold cover-up, the United Nations on Wednesday concealed behind a blue cloth and a row of flags the world body's treasured tapestry of "Guernica," the celebrated Picasso anti-war masterpiece.
The tapestry hangs outside the U.N. Security Council, where U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was presenting the U.S. case that Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction and war may be needed to make sure it disarms.
But U.N. officials insisted no symbolism was intended in the decision to hide the tapestry.
The cover and flags were meant only to provide a strong visual clue to television cameras filming diplomats in the corridor, the officials said.
Picasso's Guernica commemorates a small Basque village in northern Spain that was used by Germany for bombing practice for more than three hours on April 27, 1937.
The raid killed or wounded some 1,600 civilians and left the village in flames for three days.
02/05/03 10:56 ET
Thursday, February 6, 2003
A fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Bennis is author of the book
"Before and After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September 11th Crisis" and
the article "Powell's Dubious Case for War." Bennis said today: "Contrary
to Powell's pronouncements, Hans Blix said the UNMOVIC inspectors have seen
'no evidence' of mobile biological weapons labs, have 'no persuasive
indications' of an Iraq link to al-Qaeda and no evidence of Iraq hiding and
moving material used for weapons of mass destruction."
A former CIA analyst, MacMichael wrote a recent piece entitled "Iraq: The
Author of "Bin Laden, Islam and America's New 'War on Terrorism'" and the
forthcoming "The House of Bush and the House of Saud," AbuKhalil is a
professor of political science at California State University at
Stanislaus. He said today: "The claims of terrorism links remain hollow:
even the State Department report 'Patterns of Global Terrorism' states that
Iraq has not been involved in terrorism since 1993. As for a Bin Laden
link, that was not proved, but alleged without any substantiation.... Two
groups mentioned by Powell have been largely defunct since 1985. Two
others, the alleged 'Zakawi network' and Ansar al-Islam, operate in
northern Iraq, outside Saddam Hussein's control. The leader of Ansar
al-Islam has denied having any links to either Hussein or Bin Laden. The
Arab media is reporting that the Zakawi story was provided by Jordanian
intelligence, which has a record of torture and inaccuracy. Prince Nayif,
the minister of interior and chief of the Saudi effort in the 'war on
terrorism,' denied ever hearing about the two al-Qaeda members sneaking
from Iraq into Saudi Arabia." AbuKhalil also took issue with some of the
translations of tapes provided by Powell.
Rangwala is a lecturer in politics at Cambridge University in Britain and
is available to rebut many points in Powell's speech. He noted that even on
points in the public domain, Powell stretched the truth: "Powell claimed
that UNMOVIC head 'Dr. Blix pronounced the 12,200-page declaration rich in
volume but poor in information and practically devoid of new evidence.' ...
In fact, Blix has said that 'In the fields of missiles and biotechnology,
the declaration contains a good deal of new material and information
covering the period from 1998 and onward. This is welcome.'"
Author of the book "Writing Dissent" and an associate professor at the
University of Texas at Austin, Jensen said today: "Even if Powell's claims
were all true, nothing he said makes the case for war. Instead, Powell
presented a good argument for continuing inspections -- with serious
cooperation on the part of U.S. officials with orders to share all relevant
For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
7) Robert Fisk: Don't mention the war in Afghanistan
The near collapse of peace in this savage land is a narrative erased from the mind of Americans
05 February 2003
There's one sure bet about the statement to be made to the UN Security
Council today by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell - or by General
Colin Powell as he has now been mysteriously reassigned by the American
press: he won't be talking about Afghanistan.
For since the Afghan war is the "successful" role model for
forthcoming imperial adventure across the Middle East, the near-collapse of
peace in this savage land and the steady erosion of US forces in
Afghanistan - the nightly attacks on American and other international
troops, the anarchy in the cities outside Kabul, the warlordism and drug
trafficking and steadily increasing toll of murders - are unmentionables, a
narrative constantly erased from the consciousness of Americans who are now
sending their young men and women by the tens of thousands to stage another
This article is written in President George Bush's home state of Texas,
where the flags fly at half-staff for the Columbia crew, where the dispatch
to the Middle East of further troops of the 108th Air Defence Artillery
Brigade from Fort Bliss and the imminent deployment from Holloman Air Force
Base in neighbouring New Mexico of undisclosed numbers of F-117 Nighthawk
stealth bombers earned a mere 78-word down-page inside "nib" report in the
local Austin newspaper.
Only in New York and Washington do the neo-conservative pundits suggest
obscenely - that the death of the Columbia crew may well have heightened
America's resolve and "unity" to support the Bush adventure in Iraq. A few
months ago, we would still have been asked to believe that the post-war
"success" in Afghanistan augured well for the post-war success in Iraq.
So let's break through the curtain for a while and peer into the fastness
of the land that both President Bush and Prime Minister Blair promised not
to forget. Hands up those who know that al-Qa'ida has a radio station
operating inside Afghanistan which calls for a holy war against America?
It's true. Hands up again anyone who can guess how many of the daily
weapons caches discovered by US troops in the country have been brought
into Afghanistan since America's "successful" war? Answer: up to 25 per cent.
Have any US troops retreated from their positions along the Afghan-Pakistan
border? None, you may say. And you would be wrong. At least five positions,
according to Pakistani sources on the other side of the frontier, only one
of which has been admitted by US forces. On 11 December, US troops
abandoned their military outpost at Lwara after nightly rocket attacks
which destroyed several American military vehicles. Their Afghan allies
were driven out only days later and al-Qa'ida fighters then stormed the US
compound and burnt it to the ground.
It's a sign of just how seriously America's mission in Afghanistan is
collapsing that the majestically conservative Wall Street Journal -
normally a beacon of imperial and Israeli policy in the Middle East and
South-west Asia - has devoted a long and intriguing article to the American
retreat, though of course that's not what the paper calls it.
"Soldiers still confront an invisible enemy,'' is the title of Marc
Kaufman's first-class investigation, a headline almost identical to one
which appeared over a Fisk story a year or so after Russia's invasion of
Afghanistan in 1979-80. The soldiers in my dispatch, of course, were
Russian. Indeed, just as I recall the Soviet officer who told us all at
Bagram air base that the "mujahedin terrorism remnants" were all that was
left of the West's conspiracy against peace-loving (and Communist) Afghans,
so I observed the American spokesmen - yes, at the very same Bagram air
base - who today cheerfully assert that al-Qa'ida "remnants" are all that
are left of Bin Laden's legions.
Training camps have been set up inside Afghanistan again, not - as the
Americans think - by the recalcitrant forces of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's
anti-American Afghans, but by Arabs. The latest battle between US forces
and enemy "remnants" near Spin Boldak in Kandahar provinceinvolved further
Arab fighters, as my colleague Phil Reeves reported. Hekmatyar's
Hezb-i-Islami forces have been "forging ties" with al-Qa'ida and the
Taliban; which is exactly what the mujahedin "terrorist remnants" did among
themselves in the winter of 1980, a year after the Soviet invasion.
An American killed by a newly placed landmine in Khost; 16 civilians
up by another newly placed mine outside Kandahar; grenades tossed at
Americans or international troops in Kabul; further reports of rape and
female classroom burnings in the north of Afghanistan - all these events
are now acquiring the stale status of yesterday's war.
So be sure that Colin Powell will not be boasting to the Security Council
today of America's success in the intelligence war in Afghanistan. It's one
thing to claim that satellite pictures show chemicals being transported
around Iraq, or that telephone intercepts prove Iraqi scientists are still
at their dirty work; quite another to explain how all the "communications
chatter" intercepts which the US supposedly picked up in Afghanistan proved
nothing. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, you can quote Basil Fawlty:
"Whatever you do, don't mention the war.''
LONDON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Shares and the dollar stumbled and gold rose to a seven-year high on Tuesday as traders feared that a key speech by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell could further increase war worries and hammer market sentiment.
Powell, who will address the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, has said he will provide "sober and compelling proof" that Iraq is hiding weapons from U.N. arms inspectors -- a move seen as adding to the likelihood of a U.S.-led attack against Iraq.
"There is a lot of focus on the Powell speech," said Lehman Brothers bond strategist Fred Godwin.
"War news has particularly dominated the past 24 hours so there is classic risk aversion in the markets, with bonds, gold and the euro all higher."
Financial markets have been driven for much of the year by uncertainty over the war, but worries about the state of the world economy have also weighed heavily.
Investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein warned this week that any "relief rally" on world stock markets after a war starts could be quickly undermined by "the debt-infused, spluttering recovery in the U.S.."
Gold, the traditional safe haven for investors in times of turmoil, jumped to a seven-year high, hitting $376.50 an ounce and bringing this year's gains to around nine percent.
The metal dropped back a bit after reaching the high to trade around $374.25/375.00 but traders predicted the price could break $380 ahead of Powell's speech.
"I think the market's quite nervous ahead of that speech," said David Thurtell, a commodities strategist at Commonwealth Bank in Sydney. "It really is sort of make or break for the U.S. case for war in Iraq."
Euro zone government bonds also climbed on the war worries, pushing down their yields.
The benchmark 10-year Bund yield was 5.6 basis points lower at 4.02 percent, below one-week highs set on Monday at 4.11 percent. Two year Schatz yields were down 1.8 basis points at 2.56 percent.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury was 3.97 percent, down 2.8 basis points.
War worries combined with concerns about earnings in the telecoms sector to sink European shares.
The FTSE Eurotop 300 index was 1.8 percent weaker while the narrower DJ Euro Stoxx 50 index was down 2.3 percent.
"It's the usual suspects such as the problems with Iraq while we wait for earnings from Cisco Systems," said Thierry Lacraz, European strategist at Pictet & Cie bank in Geneva. Results are due later from U.S. networking giant Cisco Systems.
The world's largest manufacturer of equipment that directs Internet traffic is expected to report second-quarter earnings in line with market expectations.
But analysts fear Cisco will repeat its mantra of recent quarters by forecasting flat to lower sales for its third quarter ending in April.
France's Alcatel dropped 7.4 percent after it predicted a sharp decline in first-quarter 2003 sales, though the company swung to an operating profit of 20 million euros in the fourth quarter.
Rival Ericsson sank more than ten percent, extending Monday's near 12 percent plunge when the Swedish group said its first quarter sales would slide by a third.
Earlier in Japan, Tokyo's capital-weighted TOPIX index put on 0.78 percent, but the Nikkei average of the 225 most liquid issues finished down 0.19 percent.
Wall Street was poised to open lower. U.S. equity index futures indicated the Dow Jones industrial average would open down about 50 points, while Nasdaq 100 futures indicated the tech-laced Nasdaq Composite index would also start lower.
DOLLAR SLIPS, OIL FIRMS
On the foreign exchange market, the dollar eased back toward recent three-year lows against the euro.
"The dollar had been rebounding but it has come under a bit of renewed pressure again today primarily due to the fact we have the U.N. Security Council meeting tomorrow," said Ian Stannard, foreign exchange strategist at BNP Paribas.
"It's brought Iraq back in as the main focus...so this is all negative for the dollar. If the U.N. Security Council seems to be united and previous splits are mended then we should see the dollar gain a little bit."
The dollar lost around a quarter-percent compared with its New York close to trade at $1.0807 per euro and was slightly weaker versus the Japanese currency at around 120.18 yen.
On the oil market, Brent crude oil futures inched up, with the market
nervous ahead of Powell's speech. In London the March contract was up
5 cents at $30.30 a barrel.
02/04/03 12:07 ET
LONDON, Feb. 7 - The British government admitted today that large sections
its most recent report on Iraq, praised by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
as "a fine paper" in his speech to the United Nations on Wednesday, had been
lifted from magazines and academic journals.
But while acknowledging that the 19-page report was indeed a "pull-together
of a variety of sources," a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair defended
it as "solid" and "accurate."
The document, "Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception
Intimidation," was posted on No. 10 Downing Street's Web site on Monday. It
was depicted as an up-to-date and unsettling assessment by the British
intelligence services of Iraq's security apparatus and its efforts to hide
its activities from weapons inspectors and to resist international efforts to
force it to disarm.
But much of the material actually came, sometimes verbatim, from several
nonsecret published articles, according to critics of the government's policy
who have studied the documents. These include an article published in the
Middle East Review of International Affairs in September 2002, as well as
three articles from Jane's Intelligence Review, two of them published in the
summer of 1997 and one in November 2002.
In some cases, the critics said, parts of the articles - or of summaries
posted on the Internet - were paraphrased in the report. In other cases, they
were plagiarized - to the extent that even spelling and punctuation errors in
the originals were reproduced.
The Blair government did not deny that any of this had happened. But
spokesman insisted today that the government believed "the text as published
to be accurate" and that the document had been published because "we wanted
to show people not only the kind of regime we were dealing with, but also how
Saddam Hussein had pursued a policy of deliberate deception."
He added: "In retrospect, we should, to clear up any confusion,
acknowledged which bits came from public sources and which bits came from
other sources." He said the document had been written by government officials
and drawn from "a number of sources, including intelligence sources."
"The overall objective was to give the full picture without compromising
intelligence sources," he said.
But critics of the government said that not only did the document appear
have been largely cut and pasted together, but also that the articles it
relied on were based on information that is, by now, obsolete.
For instance, the second section of the three-part report, which is described
on the Downing Street Web site as providing "up-to-date details of Iraq's
network of intelligence and security," was drawn in large part from "Iraq's
Security and Intelligence Network: a Guide," an article about the activities
of Iraqi intelligence in Kuwait in 1990 and 1991, which appeared in the
Middle East Review of International Affairs last September. Its author was
Ibrahim al-Marashi, a postgraduate student at the Monterey Institute of
International Studies in California.
Mr. Marashi told Channel 4 News, which first reported the plagiarism
that his research had been drawn primarily from two huge sets of documents:
"one taken from Kurdish rebels in the north of Iraq - around four million
documents - as well as 300,000 documents left by Iraqi security services in
Kuwait." He also said that while he had no reason to doubt the truth of
anything he had written and believed the government report to be accurate, no
one had asked permission or informed him about using his work.
"I am surprised, flattered as well, that this information got used
in a U.K.
government dossier," Mr. Marashi said in an interview with Reuters. "Had they
consulted me, I could have provided them with more updated information."
Dr. Glen Rangwala, a lecturer in politics at Cambridge University who
compared the British report with the articles it used as sources, said that
in some cases, the authors apparently changed phrases from the original
articles to make the case against Iraq seem more extreme.
For instance, Dr. Rangwala said, a section on the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi
directorate of general intelligence, appeared to have been lifted verbatim
from Mr. Marashi's article, except for a few tweaks. Where Mr. Marashi
mentions that the Mukhabarat's responsibilities include "monitoring foreign
embassies in Iraq," the government document speaks of "spying on foreign
embassies in Iraq." Mr. Marashi's description of the Mukhabarat's role in
"aiding opposition groups in hostile regimes" becomes "supporting terrorist
organizations in hostile regimes."
Critics of the British and American policy toward Iraq said the report
how little concrete evidence the two governments actually have against Iraq,
as well as how poor their intelligence sources were.
"Both governments seem so desperate to create a pretext to attack
they are willing to say anything," said Nathaniel Hurd, a consultant on Iraq
and a critic of the American position. "This U.K. dossier, which deceptively
uses outdated material and plagiarizes, is just the latest example of
Opposition politicians here attacked the report as the deceptive work
bumbling government clutching at straws as it tries to make a case for war.
"This is the intelligence equivalent of being caught stealing the
said Menzies Campbell, the foreign affairs spokesman for the Liberal
Democrats. "The dossier may not amount to much, but this is a considerable
embarrassment for a government trying still to make a case for war."
Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative Party's shadow defense secretary, said
government had not satisfactorily addressed the concerns raised by the
"The government's reaction utterly fails to explain, deny or excuse
allegations," Mr. Jenkin said. "The document has been cited by the prime
minister and Colin Powell as the basis for a possible war. Who is responsible
for such an incredible failure of judgment?"
PEW RESEARCH CENTER
President Bush, State Of The Union, The Economy
Conducted 1/8-12/03; surveyed 1,218 adults; margin of error +/ 3%. Subsample
A: 611 adults, margin of error+/ 4.5%. Subsample B: 607 adults, margin of
error +/ 4.5% (release, 1/23).
"I'd like to ask you some questions about priorities for President
Congress this year. As I read from a list, tell me if you think the item
that I read should be a top priority, important but lower priority, not too
important, or should it not be done?"
81% Defending the country from future terrorist attacks
73% Strengthening the nation's economy
62% Improving the job situation
62% Improving the educational system
59% Taking steps to make the Social Security system financially sound
56% Taking steps to make the Medicare system financially sound
52% Adding prescription drug benefits to Medicare coverage
48% Regulating health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and managed health
48% Dealing with the problems of poor and needy people
48% Strengthening the U.S. military
47% Reducing crime
45% Providing health insurance to the uninsured
42% Developing a national missile defense system to protect against missile
40% Reducing the budget deficit
40% Dealing with the nation's energy problem
39% Protecting the environment
39% Dealing with the moral breakdown in the country
33% Working to reduce racial tensions
30% Making the cuts in federal income taxes passed in 2001 permanent
For complete survey results and questions, see:
11) THE GALLUP POLL BRIEFING
February 11, 2003
Secretary of State Colin Powell's favorability has shown little change following his address to the United Nations last week. More than 8 in 10 Americans continue to say they have a favorable opinion of him.
The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted the weekend following Powell's speech to the United Nations, finds an increase in support for invading Iraq with U.S. ground troops in an attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
A recent Gallup Poll finds an increase in the percentage of Americans who say economic issues are the most important problem facing this country today, and a slight increase in the percentage of respondents who name fear of war as the most important.
The public's economic outlook continues to be quite pessimistic in February, with only about one-quarter saying conditions are "getting better" and 6 in 10 saying they are "getting worse."
The public's favorable image of France has declined by 20 percentage points over the past year, undoubtedly due to France's position on a possible war against Iraq. Germany's image has also suffered in Gallup's annual ratings of foreign nations. Americans' opinions of Great Britain have shown little change. Nearly 9 in 10 Americans have a favorable opinion of Britain.
February 4, 2003
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted Jan. 31-Feb. 2, finds essentially no change in the public's approval of the way President Bush is handling the economy but a 7 percentage-point increase in his approval rating on foreign affairs.
The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, taken the weekend after Bush's State of the Union address, finds an increase in support for invading Iraq with U.S. ground troops in an attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
In a poll conducted the day after the space shuttle Columbia was lost as it attempted to return to earth this past Saturday, 45% of Americans say NASA is doing an "excellent" job, and an additional 37% say it is doing a "good" job.
A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows that Secretary of State Colin Powell is viewed most favorably out of the five U.S. political leaders tested, followed by President Bush. Powell has consistently had extremely high favorable ratings in Gallup Polls conducted over the past decade.
According to the most recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, a slight majority
of Americans now support Bush's economic plan. Prior to Bush's State of
the Union address last week, fewer than half of all Americans supported
Maylasian Prime Minister: "US
wants to invade Iraq for its oil"
New Delhi, Sep 23 (IANS) The U.S. is talking of war with Iraq not because Baghdad has allegedly amassed weapons of mass destruction but to control the country's huge oil reserves, say Indian analysts and oil industry sources.
The move, analysts say, was an effort to "reconstruct" the Middle East and could have far-reaching consequences for India.
"Control of Iraq's oil production will allow American companies better leverage in getting sub-contracting projects in that country and stopping Baghdad from resuming full oil production," a top executive of an oil company told IANS on condition of anonymity.
Leading defence analyst K. Subrahmanyam said: "They (U.S.) want an excuse to reconstruct the whole of the Middle East. (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein is the first one.
"Last year it was Osama (bin Laden), this year it is Saddam, next year it will be somebody else."
Subrahmanyam said Washington had realised it would finally have to deal with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
"In Pakistan, they are going to stay on. In Saudi Arabia, they have to find alternative sources of oil before they can act. That's why Iraq is important," he said.
Iraqi Ambassador to India Salah Al-Mukhtar said the U.S. wanted to attack Iraq to control its oil reserves. This was also the reason behind Washington launching a war on terrorism in Afghanistan -- to control the oil- and gas-rich Central Asian nations, he told IANS.
Industry analysts say a change of regime in Iraq, as the U.S. wants, would adversely affect India.
"We have more to lose from a change in government, as the Saddam Hussein regime is favourably inclined towards India. This relationship has allowed India to get into the Iraqi oil upstream," said Ardhendu Sen, senior fellow of Tata Energy Research Centre.
"A regime more favourably inclined to the U.S. could upset the equation and would mean India having to renegotiate."
According to Middle East watcher K.R. Singh, while oil is an important factor in U.S. designs on Iraq, the security interests of Israel were an equally important issue.
Sources said control over Iraq and its oil wealth would allow American firms to manipulate global market prices by deciding on production levels and to keep out countries like India, which is engaged in developing oil fields in that country.
Analysts said Iraq -- with proven reserves of 112 billion barrels of crude oil, next only to Saudi Arabia -- could throw the global oil market into a tailspin by resuming full-fledged production if U.N. sanctions against it were lifted.
Besides India, countries like France, Russia, China, Italy, Vietnam and Algeria have signed or sought to sign agreements to develop Iraqi oil fields, rebuild refineries and undertake exploration activities.
Iraq is permitted to produce 3 to 3.5 million barrels of oil a day under a U.N. oil-for-food programme, but actual production is about 1.5 to 2 million barrels.
This ensures that crude oil prices are kept high, as a steep drop is not in the interest of U.S. companies, which have been engaged in deep water exploration, a source said.
"If prices fall, it could jeopardise their deep water exploration, as it would not be viable due to the high costs involved.
"By keeping Iraqi supplies disrupted, the U.S. is able to ensure that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are benefited, as they are able to raise their production to meet the shortfall and earn more revenue."
The source noted that U.S. President George Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney have strong links with the oil industry and alleged that the threat to attack Iraq was aimed at helping American oil companies.
In 1973, Iraq nationalised all oil companies. By displacing Saddam Hussein and installing a friendly regime, U.S. and British companies would be able to re-enter the country and get a major share of its oil industry.
India, which looks at Iraq as an assured source of oil, is opposed to military action against Baghdad and wants sanctions against that country to be removed in tandem with compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions.
India and Iraq have historically had strong political ties. Iraq has been one of the moderate Islamic states and is perhaps the only Arab country to support India's stand on Jammu and Kashmir vis-a-vis Pakistan.
Before the 1991 Gulf War, India was Iraq's largest bilateral trading partner and a large number of Indian companies had presence there.
In the oil sector too, India had a major presence. The current tension
in the Middle East has steeply pushed up crude oil prices and adversely
impacted India -- a major importing country.
BISMARCK, ND-The stage was set for another international showdown
Monday, when chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix confirmed that the
remote, isolationist state of North Dakota is in possession of a large
stockpile of nuclear missiles.
"Satellite photos confirm that the North Dakotans have been quietly
harboring an extensive nuclear-weapons program," said Blix, presenting
his findings in a speech to the U.N. Security Council. "Alarmingly, this
barely developed hinterland possesses the world's most technologically
advanced weapons of mass destruction, capable of reaching targets all
over the world."
After initially offering no comment on the report, North Dakota
officials admitted to having a stockpile of 1,710 warheads at two
military sites and confirmed that the state has been home to an active
nuclear-weapons-development program for decades.
Blix called the revelation a "terrifying prospect for the world
Within hours of the announcement, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan
urged North Dakota to abandon its program.
"This is clearly an excessive number of weapons for a place like
Dakota to possess," Annan said. "In this post-Cold War environment, we
should be moving away from nuclear proliferation among developing
European leaders also spoke out in opposition to North Dakota's weapons
"North Dakota, still in its cultural infancy, cannot be trusted
responsibly handle weapons of mass destruction," French President
Jacques Chirac said. "We are talking about a place that doesn't even
have a Thai restaurant or movie theater that shows foreign films, but
still they have the resources to build thousands of warheads. Do not
believe their claims of being 'The Peace Garden State.'"
According to Chirac, North Dakota's development of nuclear arms
"represents a grave threat to peaceful states the world over, none more
so than its longtime neighbor and rival across the 45th Parallel, South
"The South Dakotans, while a simple people themselves, are friendly,
hospitable, and far more in touch with the outside world," Chirac said.
"Many people, myself included, have passed through and seen the Badlands
and Mount Rushmore. North Dakota, on the other hand, is a bleak,
racially homogeneous state that few people ever enter or exit."
After a joint meeting of the French and German cabinets, German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said the two nations "agree that this
situation must be rectified" and implored North Dakota to cease its
uranium-enrichment program immediately.
"We have opened the door to talks," Schroeder said. "But,
North Dakota seems unwilling to engage with the world community at this
According to Blix, North Dakota is home to 500 Minuteman III ICBMs and
50 Peacekeeper missiles, giving it one of the heaviest concentrations of
the weapons on earth. The biggest discovery made by U.N. inspectors,
Blix said, was a missile field at Minot Air Force Base, where they found
an "almost unbelievable" stockpile of warheads.
The rogue state was also found to possess enormous stockpiles of fissile
"North Dakota could have as much as 75 metric tons of weapons-grade
uranium and 8 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium," Blix said.
"Just 55 pounds of uranium are needed to construct a simple nuclear
weapon. Do the math-the prospects are terrifying."
The man at the center of the controversy is North Dakota's leader, Gov.
Having risen to power in 2000 after amassing tremendous wealth in the
private sector, Hoeven lives a life of comfort and excess inside the
heavily patrolled North Dakota governor's mansion, a lavish dwelling
paid for entirely by the state, while many of his people engage in
Some suspect that Hoeven is using the nuclear program as a bargaining
chip to gain badly needed economic benefits for his state. Hardly at the
forefront of technology in other aspects, North Dakota has a largely
rural population and a child-poverty rate of 14 percent-a fact critics
have been quick to point out.
"North Dakotans live a horrible life of isolation and deprivation,
struggling to grow crops in a hostile, sub-zero climate while their
indifferent government routinely prioritizes bolstering the state's
military might," BBC World correspondent Caroline Eagan said. "There are
people starving there, and yet high-tech weapons laboratories and
military bases abound. It's deplorable."
Added Eagan: "And, no big surprise, the U.S. played a major role
arming this place. I hear most of the missiles are American-made."
Many U.S. citizens have expressed fear, some realizing for the first
time that North Dakota has thousands of weapons capable of reaching any
major American city within minutes.
"It is absolutely frightening that there are all these weapons of
destruction practically in my backyard," said Karen Stiles of Moorhead,
MN. "Do we really know enough about these people who have their finger
on the button that could kill millions?"
Added Stiles: "How did our elected officials let this happen?"
[The Onion is a political satire publication, it's just a joke, don't
take the information seirous!]
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