Monday, March 31, 2003

German military historians predict Anglo-American defeat in Iraq (via DY)
'Never in the history of war have such formidable cities as Baghdad been conquered militarily by an invading army. The single exception may be the recent Russian siege of Grozny (400,000 inhabitants), but the focused brutality of its assault may not be easily replicated on Baghdad's 5 million inhabitants under the eyes of a watchful and angry planet. Indeed, the invaders have but two choices: to incinerate the city or to starve it.'

'Dr. Messerschmidt's considered opinion is that a defeat of the Anglo-American forces is very probable. If Saddam Hussein's regime can manage to stay in power, the conquest of Baghdad is impossible, unless the two allies raze and burn the city to the ground.'

'German military historians, such as Dr. Messerschmidt, are convinced that if the British and the Americans manage to conquer Baghdad, this feat would be a first in the history of humanity for a city of this size... Another military historian, Dr. Bernhard Kroener of the University of Potsdam, is convinced that "If resistance occurs, a major city cannot be conquered... Anyone, who is not a complete idiot, will try to prevent this. It is impossible to win," says Kroener. If the allied invasion army means to seal off the entire city, it will need far more troops than it has now and had better count on a siege duration of a month or even a year.'

'[Retired Brigadier] Hauff agrees with German military historians. "To conquer Baghdad through military means is impossible. There will be a year-long, house-to-house fighting in the streets, a real mini-terror war."'

War in Iraq stalled, new plan needed
'Ten days into the invasion of Iraq, the political imperative of waging a short and decisive campaign is increasingly at odds with the military necessity of preparing for a protracted, more violent and costly war, according to senior military officials. Top Army officers in Iraq say they now believe that they effectively need to restart the war. Before launching a major ground attack on Iraq's Republican Guard, they want to secure their supply lines and build up their own combat power. Some timelines for the likely duration of the war now extend well into the summer, they say.'

US A10 blows away British armoured unit near Basra
Vivid eyewitness account by British survivors of 'friendly fire' incident from US Tankbuster pilot described as a 'cowboy'.

U.S. planning more invasions, McGovern says
'Former U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern charged Wednesday that President Bush intends to invade North Korea and Iran after finishing with Iraq. "Even now, these wars are being planned by the current administration," McGovern said. "I'm positive, based on conversations with people close to the White House, that plans are in place for the next invasions."'

Scott Ritter says US will lose the Iraq war
'In an interview with Irish radio, Mr. Ritter said that the conflict would become an "absolute quagmire," and the US-UK advance would stall outside Bhagdad and fail to capture the city.'

Russian President Putin calls for immediate end to military activity
'President Vladimir Putin on Friday called the U.S.-led war against Iraq the most serious crisis since the end of the Cold War and warned that it threatened global stability... The war is "in danger of rocking the foundations of global stability and international law," Putin said. "The only correct solution to the Iraqi problem is an immediate end to military activity in Iraq and resumption of a political settlement in the UN Security Council."'

Karbala - Decisive battle
Ze'ev Schiff argues the Iraqis have decided to hold a major defensive battle south of Baghdad. 'The Iraqi move is daring because, if it fails, the way will be open to Baghdad and large numbers of Iraqi forces will be destroyed.'

Good morrrrrning, Iraq....
This is Vietnam on fast forward... fascinating parallels with the Vietnam war.

'THE number of troops in the Gulf could be dramatically reduced if war drags on, Britain's leading soldier warned yesterday. General Sir Mike Jackson said: "This amount of commitment is not sustainable over a long period of time."'

'A Whitehall source said last night: "Because of the pressures on troops all over the world we will have to consider our commitment in the Gulf carefully in the coming weeks. "If this is dragging on in six months I expect forces to be cut from 45,000 to 5,000."'

Iran and Syria hit back over Rumsfeld threat
'US officials fear the movement of Iranian Badr Corps fighters into Iraq could further complicate the war effort. They suspect the Iranian fighters want to create a zone of influence in Iraq which would give them control of oil fields and act as a buffer against future American aggression.

'The corps is the military wing of the Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI), the main Iran-based Iraqi opposition movement. According to diplomatic sources, it is a trained fighting force with between 10,000 and 15,000 men. SAIRI is one of many anti-Saddam groups that make up the Iraqi opposition, which the US has been cultivating up to now. Officially, Iran is neutral.'

'Last night, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell said Rumsfeld’s comments would be an embarrassment to Tony Blair, who had attempted to forge closer relations with Syria . Campbell said: "We could do without too much loose talk about Syria. The inference behind Mr Rumsfeld’s remarks appears to be that Syria might be next in line."

'Former defence minister Doug Henderson, a leading Labour backbench opponent of the war, said: "All I can see is a major escalation, with all the risks of involving Syria, Iran and Turkey, or a ceasefire and a withdrawal and I think a ceasefire and withdrawal is by far the better way forward." In Turkey, scores of people in Urfa province yesterday set upon four Jeeps carrying American soldiers, throwing eggs and stones, breaking windows and shouting anti-war slogans.'

If things go badly for America and the neo-conservative cabal falls into increasing disrepute, Iran, Syria and other countries will be emboldened to intervene in the war, to increase the costs for the US, to try and effect a favourable ceasefire or peace agreement, and to protect their own interests. The stakes are high.

British Commanders Question War Strategy
'The commanders did not anticipate the level of resistance from Iraqi soldiers and the population at large in southern Iraq, where the British effort is concentrated, an informed defense source said. British and American intelligence reports had suggested that the south, dominated by Muslim Shiites with a long history of repression by President Saddam Hussein's government, "would fall into our hands," as the source put it.

'Instead, British forces, including the 1st Armored Division, have stopped outside Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, engaging Iraqi forces when they attack but avoiding entering the city of more than 1 million. This pause has kept the British from racing north toward the city of Kut to support the American drive to Baghdad, as was originally planned, the source said. As a result, important momentum has been lost.'

'There are reports that the British will be asked to send in more forces. But Gen. Mike Jackson, the army chief of staff, said at a news conference here that his forces were already stretched because nearly 19,000 have been left home to cover for sporadic walkouts by Britain's firefighters union. "We're on a surge basis . . . [which] is not sustainable over a long period of time," Jackson said.'

'Garden said the British military establishment had originally been reluctant to endorse the Iraqi campaign because they considered it risky and unnecessary. "Among my former military colleagues, not a single one thought this was a good idea," he said. "And almost all were prepared to say so in public." The problem now, said Garden, is whether to rush forward to besiege Baghdad or wait for reinforcements. Such a halt, however temporary, would further stall the campaign's momentum. "It might even look like a retreat," he said.'

Bagdad market bomb was probably American
Robert Fisk has found and examined a piece of the bomb which shows what is probably the manufacturer's serial number of the device, which he quotes, challenging others to investigate the origin of the bomb. It is standard practice when bad news hits for UKUSA to immediately issue disinformation which can be prominently run through the compliant media, eg, it was an Iraqi bomb, an Iraqi missile which fell to earth, a deliberate stunt by the Iraqis, etc etc, anything that could be remotely plausible and which could be offered as a 'possible' explanation of the unfortunate incident. By the time more information is available the incident will hopefully be in the past and forgotten. In this way propaganda continues to deceive the Western audience, but at the same time the credibility of the military is eroded. Basically nothing that is said from the official sources could be believed without independent confirmation. Or, as is often said, the first casualty of war is truth. It doesnt matter what side, what war, what is happening, what the truth is, whether you are actually winning or losing: the message from the military is always the same and must always be distrusted: we are winning, things are going to plan, the enemy is being defeated, victory is nigh, mistakes and atrocities were not made by us, only by the enemy, etc etc.

Mass opposition grows in Europe to War on Iraq
'Spain's Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar, the third man on the international stage beside the US President, George Bush, and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in the run-up to war, is staring at political disaster. The most recently published poll on attitudes to war, by the state's own official pollsters, showed 91 per cent opposed... Mr Aznar's one-time political mentor, Felix Pastor, a former party president who sits on its ruling committee, broke ranks to accuse him of destroying the years of work to creating a moderate, centre-right party. "The idea of a moderate, humanitarian, Christian People's Party has been blown away," he told El Mundo newspaper. "The Spanish people have the right to expect their government to keep them away from all wars ... Bush's policies are so detestable that we should keep well away."'

'Opinion polls in France show that approval for President Jacques Chirac's anti-war policy has reached 90 per cent, the highest recorded rating for any government program since surveys started in 1938.'

'Germany's centre-left Government signalled an initiative - outlined this week by the overseas development minister, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul - to ensure that the coalition agreed to bear the cost of rebuilding Iraq. "It cannot be the case that the Americans and the British bomb and 'old Europe' pays," she said, alluding to US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's scathing reference to some anti-war nations.'

Blair lied about 'executed' British soldiers
'The Government apologised yesterday to the families of two dead British soldiers over claims by Tony Blair that the men had been "executed" by Iraqi militiamen. Adam Ingram, the Armed Forces minister, expressed "regret" for any distress caused by the Prime Minister's condemnation of a broadcast on al-Jazeera television which showed the men's bodies.

'Mr Ingram's apology is a serious embarrassment for Mr Blair, who highlighted the deaths of the soldiers during his press conference on Thursday with George Bush at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland. Sapper Luke Allsopp and Staff Sergeant Simon Cullingworth were killed by Iraqi gunmen during an ambush of their vehicle in southern Iraq.'

Al-Jazeera tells the truth about war
'My station is a threat to American media control - and they know it'

UKUSA using illegal weapons of mass destruction
'BRITISH and American coalition forces are using depleted uranium (DU) shells in the war against Iraq and deliberately flouting a United Nations resolution which classifies the munitions as illegal weapons of mass destruction... [Various conventions] expressly forbid employing 'poison or poisoned weapons' and 'arms, projectiles or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering'. All of these laws are designed to spare civilians from unwarranted suffering in armed conflict.'

'DU has been blamed for the effects of Gulf war syndrome -- typified by chronic muscle and joint pain, fatigue and memory loss -- among 200,000 US soldiers after the 1991 conflict. It is also cited as the most likely cause of the 'increased number of birth deformities and cancer in Iraq' following the first Gulf war. 'Cancer appears to have increased between seven and 10 times and deformities between four and six times,' according to the UN subcommission.'

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Tony Blair is going mad
This article is a bit of a stretch but still retains plausibility. For some years now Blair has given the impression of being a deluded idiot, a ridiculous figure, someone who doesnt understand what is really going on, but who thinks he is on top of it all and can bring it all together. It's been said of Chomsky that "not to have read Chomsky is to court genuine ignorance" and one wonders whether Blair has read a line.

Rumsfield pressuring Franks to attack soon
It seems like a high risk attack for Franks to use only the 3 divisions currently available without waiting for the reinforcement of the 4th ID and other units to attack 2 or more Republican Guard divisions defending in front to Baghdad.

Russian analysis of the war - Week one.
An even better overview than that provided by Agonist. A penetrating critique of American mistakes and miscalculatons.

UK MP Robin Cook calls for ceasefire, withdrawal
'Mr Cook said: "I have already had my fill of this bloody and unjust war. I want our troops home and I want them home before more of them are killed." He attacked Mr Bush for "sitting pretty in the comfort of Camp David" while Allied forces risked death in an "unnecessary and badly planned" war. "It is easy to show you are resolute when you are not one of the guys in a sandstorm peering around for snipers," he wrote. "Nobody should start a war on the assumption that the enemy's army will co-operate. But that is exactly what President Bush has done.

'"And now his Marines have reached the outskirts of Baghdad, he does not seem to know what to do next." He was scathing about the new tactic outlined by the US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, which Mr Cook summarised as sitting down outside Baghdad "until Saddam surrenders"'

'Mr Cook revealed the thinking of many of those who sent the coalition into war, confident of a quick victory. "Shortly before I resigned, a Cabinet colleague told me not to worry about the political fallout – the war would be finished long before polling day for the May local elections.'

'The only alternative was an escalation of the conflict, dragging in Syria and possibly Iran. "I think a ceasefire and withdrawal is by far the better way forward," he added.'

Chomsky: Dangers of Iraq war
This article has been published in the New York Times and the Sydney Morning Herald, and probably elsewhere through the western corporate media system. How long has it been since a Chomsky article appeared in the New York Times? The Vietnam war? I think a process in the media system similar to that period is happening in the corporate media. That is, there is significant dissent at elite level at the cost, risks and dangers of this war and so the system is opening up more to criticism and dissent, with a view to managing a more reasonable conclusion to the war and a review of the frankly dangerous and out of control neo-conservative policies of imperial domination and preventative war.

Fisk: Saddamagrad and Iraqi military strategy
'"They have come to destroy our country and we must stand and destroy them and defend our people and our country ... Cut their throats ... They are coming to take our land. But when they try to enter our cities, they try to avoid a battle with our forces and to stay outside the range of our weapons."'

'The sheer amount of military and statistical detail coming from the Iraqi authorities is beginning to make the US Centcom information boys look like chumps.'

'By this morning, the Americans could be outside Baghdad. But in military terms they might as well be in Kuwait... In Baghdad, it's easy to see not just how badly the Americans and British have miscalculated, but it's also possible to imagine just how long President Saddam and his army and Baath party militias can endure'

'Of Tony Blair, he said jovially yesterday: "I think the British nation has never been faced with a tragedy like this fellow."'

'"The whole American strategic plan is based on triggering a coup so they don't have to fight in Baghdad.'

Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich calls for immediate end to war
'This war must end now. It was unjust when it started last week, and is still unjust today. The U.S. should get out now and try to save the lives of American troops and Iraqi citizens. Most importantly, ending the war now and resuming weapons inspections could salvage world opinion of the United States, which has been deteriorating since the talk of war began. After all, the greatest threat to the United States at this time is terrorism, which is breeding from this war.'

Whoever Wins the War, The US has Lost the Peace
Howard must also be challenged, will any Australian forces participate in the occupation of Iraq?

British MP Sees Catastrophe Ahead, calls for ceasefire
'"If it must be ended sensibly, ”I can only say that there should be a ceasefire forthwith that is mandated and administered by the UN. It is clear already that this talk of achieving a regime change is fanciful.” Dalyell said: ”They have not just miscalculated, they have completely misunderstood the nature of Iraqi society and its institutions.”

'Among other consequences, ”British relations with France and Germany are at present sub-zero, and I do not know how they can be put right without at least a change of Prime Minister.” A demand for that change is beginning to grow within Labour, he said.'

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Blair to ask cabinet for 5000 more U.K. troops
Pressure should be put on the UK cabinet not to acceed to this request and to limit Britain's commitment in this disastrous war. Leave it to the Americans.

War is going 'extremely well', says Howard
Howard declined to attend the summit with Bush and Blair on the Iraq war despite being invited to do so and failed to offer increased military strength to the war effort, despite the fact that the USA plan for the blitzkrieg conquest of Iraq is a debacle and will now require much more time and massively increased forces, if it can be achieved at all. This is one of the most significant signs of a crack in Howard's hitherto unconditional support for the war effort and the 'American alliance'. Normally he would be expected to be delighted and flattered to be in the company of his powerful friends. The questions for Howard are, how long will Australian forces remain committed to the war? Will they participate in the siege and bombardment of Baghdad? Will he consider a ceasefire and negotiated settlement of the conflict? Will Aust forces participate in the occupation of Iraq after the war is over? Will Mr Howard rule out a preemptive or preventive attack on Iran, Syria or North Korea?

U.S. Firms Take Lion’s Share Of Iraqi Bonanza
'U.S. Undersecretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs Alan Larson defended Thursday, March 27, the Bush administration?s decision to give American firms the lion's share of juicy contracts for the reconstruction of post-war Iraq.'

'On Tuesday, March 25, the U.S. army granted the main Iraqi oil-well firefighting contract to a unit of Halliburton Co., a firm once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, without any bidding. The Center for Responsive Politics recalled that Halliburton had poured 17,6 million dollars into Bush's 2000 presidential campaign.'

'The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has already opened bidding for eight major projects, ranging from infrastructure to public health. Other contracts could be awarded this week, particularly for infrastructure projects worth about 600 million dollars, for which eight US firms have been invited to bid. The rebuilding process may represent a pot of gold, with the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) estimating it will cost up to 30 billion dollars over the next three years.'

Chomsky has described the Bush Adminstration as a kind of Enron administration, an unusually sleazy corporate gang even by American standards. Vice-President Dick Cheney's involvement in this 'business' puts him in the firing line right after Richard Perle who has already gone down.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Neo-Conservative Cabal First Casualty: Perle Resigns
Forced to resign over dodgy business dealings and conflict of interest. It is a matter of speculation how many more members of the cabal, Cheney, Rumsfield, Wolfowitz, Rice, Blair, Hoon, Straw, Howard, Downer, Hill etc, will be gone before Saddam is. Whether before Saddam or after Saddam, they will all have to go. In the name of peace, sanity and humanity, the mad neo-conservative cabal and their mad plan to dominate the whole earth by military force will have to be utterly rejected and utterly dismissed.

Savage Iraqi tactics stuns UKUSA
'The Marine general said that what has surprised him most about the first week of fighting is the extent of war crimes carried out by the Iraqi regime. In addition to the execution of POWs, he said, Iraqis have used civilians as human shields, stored weapons in schools, set up command posts in hospitals and pretended to surrender only to open fire.

'In one case, an Iraqi woman was hanged after she waved to coalition forces, Pace said. "I've never seen anything like this," he said. "To do it so blatantly so early, not only is it a surprise, but to me it's disgusting."'

Reports also say counter attacks by Iraqis have been driven forward in spite of getting massacred by the Marines. In one report an Iraqi element charged Marines head on and were gunned down. Eight Iraqis survivors jumped up to continue the charge and were also eliminated. The ruthless tactics employed by the Iraqi regime from the outset are reminiscent of Soviet tactics in the Second World War. Saddam in his speech to the people emphasised being patient.

Tommy Franks has insufficient infantry
'The continuing fight in Umm Qasr and around Basra and TV shots of US prisoners being paraded in Baghdad, could give heart to the city's defenders - reputed to be up to 100,000 of Saddam's elite, never knowingly lacking commitment to the fight before... For an army fighting its way into a city, historical precedent suggests that a minimum ratio of nine attackers to each defender - if that defender is determined - represents a realistic planning figure.'

'It is a sobering thought, and one that must be exercising Franks' mind increasingly as his forces draw nearer to Baghdad, that of the 270,000 allied personnel currently deployed in theatre, only around 20,000 are infantrymen. So much for nine to one: "shock and awe" has to work.'

'The Security Council, holding its first debate on Iraq since hostilities began on 19 March, was called on to end the illegal aggression and demand the immediate withdrawal of invading forces, by an overwhelming majority of this afternoon's 45 speakers. Expressing regret that diplomacy had failed to resolve the question of Iraq's disarmament, speakers emphasized that the current war, carried out without Council authorization, was a violation of international law and the United Nations Charter. Many stressed they could not understand how the Council could remain silent in the face of the aggression by two of its permanent members against another United Nations Member State.'

'Iraq’s representative called on the Council to act to ensure that the rules of international law were observed.  While the aggressors said that their goal was the disarmament of Iraq, everybody knew that they were not the ones tasked with that mandate.  The inspections during several months had found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction or proscribed activities within Iraq.  The real reason for the attack was occupation of the country, its recolonization and control of its oil wealth. He hoped the Council would stand up to the aggressors, he added.  It was peculiar that, instead of considering the aggression itself, the Council had been busy discussing the humanitarian aspects of the problem.  Shouldn’t the Council pay attention to the cessation of the aggression first?'

'The United States and the United Kingdom had waged war, stated the Observer for the League of Arab States, at a time when Iraq was positively cooperating with United Nations inspectors, who had stated that they only needed a few more months to discharge their tasks.  The only party authorized to disarm Iraq was the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC).'

'At a time when there was hope for the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he was stunned to see the invasion and occupation of Iraq.  Instead of one occupation, there were now two to deal with.'

This UN press release carries the text of the debate. Speeches by the Iraqi and Malaysian representatives among others are remarkably effective and eloquent statements against the war which deserve more attention than they currently receive. Australia, however, has shamed itself by regurgitating the discredited UKUSA (United to Kill Us All) line, making the Australian accent an ugly, jarring imposition on the decency of the world.

15 Stories Media have Already Bungled
'The war is only a week old and already the media has gotten at least 15 stories wrong or misreported a sliver of fact into a major event. Television news programs, of course, have been the prime culprits. Newspapers, while they have often gone along for the ride, have been much more nuanced and careful. Newspaper coverage has not been faultless, as photos and headlines often seem shock-and-awe-struck but, compared with TV, newspapers seem more editorially -- and mentally -- balanced. Some have actually displayed a degree of skepticism of claims made by the military and the White House -- what used to be known as "journalism."

'On Monday, I received a call from a producer of a major network's prime time news program. He said they wanted to interview me for a piece on how the public's expectation of a quick victory somehow was too high. "But," he hastened to add, "we don't want to focus on the media." I asked him where he thought the public might have received the information that falsely raised their hopes. In chat rooms, perhaps? The problem, I suggested, is that most of the TV commentators on the home front appear to be just as "embedded" with the military as the far braver reporters now in the Iraqi desert.'

The Agonist: Midday Recap and Analysis
Agonist provides the clearest and most concise account of the military situation I've found to date. Cant be sure yet how accurate it all is, but it could hardly be more inaccurate than the propaganda pumped through the corporate media.

Powell: US will not cede control of Iraq to UN
'"We didn't take on this huge burden with our coalition partners not to be able to have a significant dominating control over how it unfolds in the future. " Powell said the United Nations should, however, have a role in a post-Saddam Iraq, if only because it makes it easier for other countries to contribute to reconstruction costs.'

This will be tough for France, Germany and Russia to swallow. America will dominate and control Iraq but other countries can contribute to the reconstruction costs. The UN does not want to do anything to give legitimacy or support to the aggressors.

Invaders say war will go 'as long as it takes'
'US President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have vowed to wage war for as long as it takes to eliminate Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, as fierce Iraqi resistance raises questions about how long the fighting might last... some military sources as saying the war might last months rather than weeks. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said there was no point in other nations trying to mediate a cease-fire. "I have no idea what some country might propose, but there isn't going to be a cease-fire," he said.'

No-one should be in any doubt about the ruthless aggression of these invaders, but nor should we be bullied by their continual bluffs of determination and inflexibility. Ceasefires and peaceplans need to be drafted and discussed continually, and reported prominently, to continue to isolate the aggressors internationally and force them politically to the negotiating table. It's disappointing that Europe has failed to condemn outright the aggression and call for the withdrawal of UKUSA forces. Diplomacy does not cease when the war starts, on the contrary, it has to be prosecuted even more vigourously, just as the peace movement must. Militarily, the war is a debacle, and there is a realistic prospect of UKUSA failing to overthrow the regime in a reasonable timeframe. Tony Blair and Britain is the weak point of the coalition alliance and there should be a sustained, multi-pronged diplomatic effort to detach the UK from the US war and bring it into alignment with Europe. Maximum and sustained pressure must be brought to bear on UKUSA to accept a ceasefire and a negotiated solution, possibly including the exile of Saddam Hussein. The diplomatic pressure must also be fully public, via the UN, just as the pre-war diplomacy was massively public and did real damage to the aggressive and neo-colonial ambitions of UKUSA.

Divided EU Parliament rejects all motions on Iraq
'The parliament voted down by 255-218 a joint resolution by the Socialists, Greens and Liberals that pointed to widespread public opposition to the war and the absence of UN legitimacy, and deplored the failure to give peace efforts more time.'

This motion is reasonably worded, and across Europe something like 80% of people are opposed to the war. One of the most important aspects of this crisis is the way in which it has revealed where governments, MPs, and political parties really stand. All too many of them are in favour of aggressive war, warcrimes, unilateral lawlessness, neo-colonialism and a kind of corporate-state fascism, regardless both of international law and the feelings of their own constituents. It is a crisis of democracy, where the values that we were brought up to believe in after the Second World War have been abandoned.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Anti-war organizing in Spain
Interesting interview with a Spanish jounalist and anti-war activist. Spain has carried perhaps the largest and most impressive anti-war protests and actions of any country.

Iraq War Quiz
Gets to the point on many crucial issues. Includes references.

Pentagon plans fail almost completely
'"The Pentagon was sold on the idea that the war would be a piece of cake because everybody hated Saddam so much that once we entered, his military would collapse and all of the opposition forces would come out of the woodwork," one source, who closely monitors the battle situation in Iraq, said. "The assumption was completely wrong and now the administration is trying to figure out what to do."

'The administration had concluded that Iraq's military would collapse on the first day of fighting and that the Republican Guard would soon follow. The sources said these assessments formed the basis of the military's restrictions on target selection and rules of engagement.'

'At this point, the sources said, the State Department is urging the White House to consider an Arab initiative to convince Saddam to abdicate. Saudi Arabia has urged for a ceasefire and what the kingdom termed an honorable way to end the war. But the sources said President George Bush is determined to achieve a military victory and drive Saddam from power.'

Ex-generals fall out with Rumsfeld
'Retired generals, with the support of their serving colleagues, are openly accusing Mr Rumsfeld of underestimating the strength of Iraqi forces and mistakenly believing that the war would be a rout.'

'According to Pentagon sources, the first plan presented by Gen Franks proposed using four or five heavy divisions moving slowly towards Baghdad. Mr Rumsfeld is said to have rejected this, stating bluntly that it was unimaginative and too similar to 1991. Mr Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, his deputy, favoured a smaller, lighter force relying heavily on Special Forces and air power.

'Although Gen Franks managed to block any "Afghan model" plan in which Iraqi opposition forces would do much of the fighting supported by as few as 60,000 American troops, the final plan bore Mr Rumsfeld's stamp. There are around 250,000 coalition troops in the Persian Gulf but only two heavy divisions: the US 3rd Infantry and Britain's 7th Armoured Brigade.'

Al-Qaddafi interview: US headed for disaster
'After having occupied Iraq, he goes after Iran, all the supposedly legitimate motives that Washington has been brandishing will fall of their own weight. No one will believe George W. Bush any longer. People will say to him: “Yesterday, you just talked about Iraq. But today, you’re after Iran. Tomorrow will you try to impose your will on the whole world, one country at a time?” At that moment, things will be clear and the rest of us will be able to face them openly. This neo-colonialism will inevitably trigger a reaction. And that will be the start of a further cycle of conflict.'

US admits '8,000 Iraqis captured' claim was false
'Defence Department officials reported on Friday that they had won the surrender of the entire 51st Division, a regular Iraqi army unit deployed in southern Iraq to defend Basra, the nation's second largest city. On Saturday, officials backtracked, saying they had only taken a couple of commanders and the rest of the men had "melted away" - a term used for those who laid down their arms and returned home.

'On Monday there were reports that one of the "commanders" turned out to be a junior official who misrepresented his rank in hopes of getting better treatment. Then on Tuesday, British forces reported a tank battle with elements of the 51st outside of Basra... The US military has been forced to admit the 8,000 Iraqi soldiers they claimed to have captured last week are now battling British forces.'

Iraqis destroy Abrams tanks
'Two American M1A1 Abrams tanks were destroyed Tuesday by fire from what officers believe was an Iraqi truck-mounted anti-tank gun. It was the first time an Abrams has been destroyed by enemy fire in its 20-year history.'

Iraqi Shiite Leader: Iraqis Will Resist U.S. Control by force
'TEHRAN, Iran - The leader of the biggest Iraqi opposition group said Tuesday that Iraqis would fight any U.S. domination after Saddam Hussein is toppled. "Coalition forces are welcome in Iraq as long as they help the Iraqi people get rid of Saddam's dictatorship, but Iraqis will resist if they seek to occupy or colonize our country," said Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, leader of the Tehran-based Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Such resistance, the Shiite leader told a news conference in Tehran, would include "the use of force and arms."'

Marines fire indiscriminately in Iraq
'NASSIRIYAH, Iraq - U.S. Marines, moving through this still-contested city, opened fire at anything that moved Tuesday, leaving dozens of dead in their wake, at least some of them civilians. Helicopter gunships circled overhead, unleashing Hellfire missiles into the squat mud-brick homes and firing their machine guns, raining spent cartridge cases into neighborhoods. Occasionally a tank blasted a hole in a house. Several bodies fell in alleys.

'It was impossible to know which casualties were civilians and which were members of the Iraqi militias that have ambushed Marine convoys here for days as the Marines tried to cross the Euphrates River on a rapid march north to Al Kut, where they are expected to engage elements of Iraq's Republican Guard.'

This is an ominous sign. Perhaps from the first engagement of the Fedayeen the Americans have already lost the war.

UN big four baulk at renewing oil for food - War on Iraq
'Diplomats say the four nations [France, Germany, Russia, China], joined by Syria, are wary of taking any action that might be seen as offering even implicit UN support for a conflict... Russia, France and Germany say that since the US and Britain started the war without Security Council authorisation, they should help the Iraqi population victimised by the conflict.'

'An even nastier Security Council battle is looming, State Department officials say, over the Bush Administration's plans to impose military rule over Iraq immediately after Saddam is toppled, followed by a civilian administrator before transition to an Iraqi interim government. The US may seek Security Council endorsement for the plan to give it added legitimacy. French President Jacques Chirac declared last week he would not agree to any plan that authorised military intervention and gave the US and Britain administrative powers.'

Rumsfield compares Iraq operations to back home; 4th ID 3 weeks away
'Asked whether the Saddam fedayeen - groups of irregular soldiers fanatically loyal to the Iraqi leader - had been harassing the supply lines, Mr Rumsfeld conceded that they had, but added: "These are ones and twos, and that you're going to live with, like we lived with in Afghanistan. We live with [it] in some major cities in the United States."' Now that's an omen for the future of life in the United States...

'Defence officials said it would probably be three weeks before 35 ships containing the equipment of the 4th Infantry Division - now sailing from the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal and Red Sea - would be unloaded in Kuwait.'

Carnegie Endowment: Origins of Regime Change in Iraq
'We have assembled on our web site links to the key documents produced since 1992 by this group, usually known as neo-conservatives, and analysis of their efforts. They offer a textbook case of how a small, organized group can determine policy in a large nation, even when the majority of officials and experts originally scorned their views.'

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Suing in England, Vacationing in France: the Misplaced Patriotism of Richard Perle
Damning article on chief warmonger Richard Perle, detailing his business interests, Israeli links, extreme warmongering and attempts to silence his critics by suing them, venue shopping if necessary. A storm is brewing around the neo-conservative cabal of Cheney, Rumsfield, Wolfowitz, Perle and so on.

No chemical weapons found at site nominated by US
One had to doubt this story of the 'discovery' of Saddam's WMDs, which hit the airwaves big time soon after the story of the US POWs broke. It was probably a deliberate disinformation piece planted and run through the compliant mass media system in order to diminish the damage caused by the POW story.

Arab nations want emergency UN meeting and vote
'Iraq's UN ambassador says Arab nations want an emergency Security Council meeting and vote on a resolution demanding the immediate withdrawal of the U.S.-led invasion force - even though they anticipate vetoes by the United States and Britain... Arab nations on Monday called for an emergency Security Council meeting following up on a decision taken by Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, Egypt, earlier in the day. They called on the United States and Britain to withdraw their troops from Iraq immediately and unconditionally, and urged a council meeting. "We will ask that the invasion stop, that the invading forces will be withdrawn, and that Iraq's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence will be preserved," said Arab League Ambassador Yahya Mahmassani.'

'Al-Douri told Associated Press Television News the United States and Britain will "certainly" veto a resolution asking them to end their "illegal aggression" and immediately pull out their troops. But "the veto itself is sometimes a kind of defeat," he said. Once the resolution is vetoed in the Security Council, the Arab Group has been instructed by the Arab ministers to seek an emergency meeting of the 191-member General Assembly.'

When the vote is brought before the UN general assembly, Australia must be challenged to support it.

34 Killed by US missile in Northern Iraq
Enemies of Saddam killed. Suspicions raised that the people killed were targeted by factional opponents in Northern Iraq, a similar scenario to what has occurred in Afghanistan. Incidentally, this attack preceded the killing of Australian journalist Paul Moran, which is believed to have been a revenge strike.

Gulf War 2: Grahic images (via DY)
Must-see for everyone concerned with this war, especially for brainwashed Western consumers of corporate media who believe war is like a video game or even a 'humanitarian action'.

U.S. withdraws from UN, forms new body
Amazing developments. Even more amazing: Bush bravely leads 3rd.

Robert Fisk reports from Baghdad
Must read interview with Fisk. He now believes that Baghdad could hold out against the American attack.

US violates Geneva Convention
The US has complained that Iraq violated the Geneva convention by exposing US POWs to public curiosity. But the American soldiers might consider themselves lucky they are in Iraqi custody and not US custody. George Monbiot discusses appalling violations by the US of human rights and the Geneva Convention in Guantanamo Bay and in Afghanistan.

Saudi peace plan: Has diplomacy and the peace movement failed? What can we do now?
This war is a war between World Opinion (WO) and the American Killing Machine (AKM). AKM can hardly be stopped in Iraq. It is going to kill all the way into the centre of Baghdad, into every town and village, and keep on killing until there is no Arab left who will dare to 'raise their heads'. But this is only a battle; not the war. WO fights the war by receiving prominent reporting on three essential areas. First, the exposure of death and misery. This is why the photo and video of the captured and killed American soldiers were properly shown on TV, and must continue to be shown, along with the deaths of Iraqis, soldiers, civilians, reporters, foreigners, everyone. Just as every Iraqi soldier or irregular killed by AKM is a military 'victory' for it; every death whatever that is reported to WO is a victory to WO and a defeat for AKM. People and organisations who propose the censorship or suppression of reports on deaths identify themselves as agents of AKM. Reporting on the war must cover prominently on a daily basis every person killed or suffering, with numbers, photos, video and identification if possible.

Secondly, reporting to WO must also include an accurate military description, so that the killing of today, tomorrow and next week can be understood, anticipated, objected to. Reporting of the military situation is unsatisfactory, it seems to me. In particular there is a failure to give the position and order of battle of the opposing forces, as far as is known, on internet published situation maps, updated daily. We know that the armoured drive on Baghdad consists essentially of the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Division, supported by the 101st airborne and 1st Marines on the flanks and rear areas. The 4th Mechanized Inf is redeploying from Turkey to Kuwait to move up in support in the next week. British forces (which division?) are in action in the South, around Basra. How many other Anglo-American divisions are in action, and where are they located? It should not be difficult or impossible to discover this. We know that 3 Republican guard divisions are in the vicinity of Baghdad, the Medina, Baghdad and Al-Amer divisions. Where are the others and the regular army divisions also? Everything should be on a map to be seen at a glance.

The American plan seems to be to place Baghdad under siege by heavy forces as soon as possible. Thus the transport routes in and out of Baghdad can expect to be sealed within days. Once under siege, the Americans will hope for a capitulation of the regime, possibly by a coup, mutiny or army collapse. Failing that, they will then reduce the city. However the assault on Baghdad should not be seen as an either/or proposition, that is, either a siege, or else a massive assault. The Americans will not likely make the mistake of von Paulus in Stalingrad: a costly application of brute force. Nor will they follow Soviet tactics in the battle of Berlin: more brute force on a massive scale with enormous casualties on both sides. With superior doctrine, special forces, training, tactics, weapons and technology, AKM will be able to launch a sophisticated and flexible assault on Baghdad, taking time if they need to, tactically withdrawing if resistance is tougher, responding rapidly to political developments.

Nevertheless the anticipated rapid collapse of the regime has not materialised, and an assault is to be expected, probably in about a week as the beseiging forces are reinforced and rear areas are cleared. This provides a diplomatic opportunity for WO. High level and sustained ceasefire and peacemaking diplomatic endeavour is the third and final element of reporting to WO that must be covered each day. In the six months prior to the war, France and Germany have succeeded brilliantly in using the UN as a high level forum for exposing and stalling AKM. The Security Council or other high level diplomatic initiative must continue and expand this effort now that the war has started. The Security Council should be in the process of drafting and proposing peace plans, consisting of a ceasefire, holding of lines, withdrawal of invading forces, and deployment of peacekeepers, probably also a proposal for immunity and exile for Saddam: some sort of face saving formula for both Saddam and Bush. Bush will not likely accept any of this, anymore than he would accept plans for extended inspections, but the target is WO and this must not be forgotten. WO must be won over to the peace plan, this will achieve the isolation and eventual disempowerment of AKM.

The situation of besieged people in Basra and Baghdad must also be vigourously highlighted to WO, including plans for ceasefire, peace and rescue. Kofi Annan and the Red Cross have made efforts in this regard, but ideally the focus of WO should be on the highest level concerted planning, ie the UN. It is not likely that AKM can be stopped before it has totally crushed Iraq, but a sustained effort must be made to expose the killing, call for a ceasefire, and a political solution. In this way WO can defeat AKM, not in the battle for Iraq, but in the war against war.

Henderson: Labor will not benefit from opposing the war
Labor cannot articulate a coherent policy in opposition to the war, giving the impression it has not thought the issue through properly and does not really wish to be in opposition to war. It is part of the crisis of democracy, where a clear-cut case of aggressive war and international lawlessness cannot find opposition in the established political parties, whether Labour, Labor, Tory, Republican, Democrat, or Liberal. Last night on Lateline Labor Foreign Affairs Spokesman Rudd explained that Labor's 'opposition' to the war means that it supports Australia's involvement in the war and looks forward to Australia participating in the 'victory'. A call for the troops to be brought home and for Australia's diplomatic support of the war to be terminated is apparently intolerable to the Labor party. Genuine democracy and genuine opposition to war and warcrimes can now only take place outside the established system, in minor parties like Greens and Democrats, and in mass protest by ordinary citizens.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Lebanon: Opposition to War
'The second trend that explains the global opposition to the war is about the laws of nature and physics that say that for every action there is a reaction. In this case, the immediate action is the terrible suffering brought on by the war; the longer term action is American foreign policy in the Middle East for the past four decades or so. The reaction to both is a massive, collective rejection of that policy, in the region and globally. People everywhere are shocked and terrified by the political and moral presumptuousness of the United States government that expects people throughout the Middle East to join its bandwagon, because America?s military prowess is expected to prevail in Iraq.

'The US corollary explanation that it is waging war to bring freedom and democracy to the region is neither credible nor convincing. This is a form of self-inflicted intellectual collateral damage that wise Americans should factor into their profit-and-loss calculations for this campaign. Much of the anti-American sentiment around the world reflects Washington's legacy of empty promises in this region, combined with a foreign policy based on brute force and running against the tide of global public opinion.'

Discomfort levels high for US diplomacy, as war gathers pace in Iraq
'French President Jacques Chirac declared in Paris that he would oppose at UN level any move to legitimize the conflict or the imposition of a US-British protectorate over the nation.'

Iranians take pot shots at US-British forces in Iraq
'Coalition forces have come under fire from Iranian military units across the border from Iraq, British commandos said. Iranian anti-aircraft gun emplacements and fixed machine-gun posts have opened fire sporadically at British Royal Marine commandos and low-flying US aircraft.'

Turkey warned by US, Europe not to invade Iraq
'Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said on Sunday it would be "unthinkable" to allow Turkey to join the European Union if Ankara defied U.S. and NATO leaders and sent its forces into northern Iraq... Reports of a Turkish incursion sparked a quick reaction from NATO member Germany, which said it would withdraw its crews from the alliance's AWACS surveillance planes patrolling Turkish airspace if Ankara became a belligerent force in northern Iraq.'

Fisk: Anglo-American Lies Exposed
False anglo-American claims, such as having captured Umm-Qasr or Basra, have handed tremendous propaganda victories to the Iraqis on a plate. It reveals I think the desperation of the Anglo-American invasion for a quick victory and the heavy price to be paid by them in political and strategic terms if the war is a prolonged bloodbath as only days into the start of the war already looks a distinct possiblility. Fisk also reports that American tanks and A-10 warplanes are using depleted uranium ammunition but it is not being reported by the media.

Ominous signs: Regular and Guerilla Resistance to American invasion
'US and British officers had warned that the battle could be a great deal harder than their more ideological civilian colleagues were suggesting. But even they thought the regular Iraqi army would collapse and the main threat would come from the leadership carrying out dramatic destructive gestures involving blowing up oil fields or using weapons of mass destruction... But groups of Iraqi soldiers have been prepared to do something that was not expected of them - fight to the death.'

US plans for the war have staked considerable hopes on the rapid collapse of the Saddam regime, in as little as one or two weeks. Serious resistance could lead to the war being prolonged for months, ending in a bloodbath, which would be a political and strategic disaster for the United States.

Iraqi civilian blogging from Baghdad
'We start counting the hours from the moment one of the news channels report that the B52s have left their airfield [in Britain]. It takes them around 6 hours to get to Iraq. On the first day of the bombing it worked precisely.... The images we saw on TV last night (not Iraqi, jazeera-BBC-Arabiya) were terrible. The whole city looked as if it were on fire. The only thing I could think of was “why does this have to happen to Baghdad”. As one of the buildings I really love went up in a huge explosion I was close to tears.'

Monday, March 24, 2003

Victories of the Peace Movement
'The chances of preventing George W. Bush a true believer in the cleansing powers of military force if there ever was one from going to war with Iraq were always small. But look what the global anti-war movement accomplished. We forced the Bush administration to take the issue to the UN; we turned out millions of people in the largest coordinated anti-war demonstrations in history; we helped embolden swing states like Guinea, Cameroon, Mexico, Chile, Angola and Pakistan to resist U.S. bullying and bribery at the UN Security Council; we put the future of entire governments at risk when they attempted to side with the United States against the will of their own people.

'That doesn't sound to me like a peace movement that is losing. That sounds to me like a peace movement that may have lost the first skirmish, but is poised to win the larger struggle to put the doctrine of aggressive unilateralism back in the trash bin of history, where it belongs.'

Assessments of the likely humanitarian and economic consequences of war on Iraq - (CASI)
A listing of many documents and studies from the UN, Medact, Caritas, Save the Children and other sources covering the question of costs of the Second Gulf War, including predicted civilian casualties, economic costs, humanitarian suffering, political consequences. Also includes documents on the costs of the First Gulf War.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

UK: Redeem This Day of Shame
'[British soldiers] are not fighting in the interests of the British people, nor on behalf of any international community, but for a reactionary and dangerous US administration to which Tony Blair has subordinated our country. The prime minister was, however, clearly right when he told the Commons this week that the conduct of this crisis will shape world politics for the next 20 years. For him, that apparently means a generation in which international affairs will be conducted on the basis of a disregard for law and UN authority, and an unconditional subordination to US imperial power. That outlook is not shared by the other major powers, France, Russia, China and Germany among them. The great majority of the countries of the world appear no more ready to embrace the hegemony of the US today than they did that of the British empire a century ago. The most sobering aspect of the great power split provoked by George Bush's unilateralism is the reminder that, in the past, neo-colonial conflicts like this one have often led to much larger wars. So now is the time to speak out, or risk becoming complicit in a repetition of some of the worst crimes of the 19th and 20th centuries.'

'Blair's responsibility for this crisis cannot be concealed by the week's big lie - that it is all the fault of the French. The prime minister did not get the second security council resolution which he so craved because the majority of the council opposed him and the US administration was not interested anyway. It is far more likely that, had Britain adopted the firm position of France and Germany from the beginning, a peaceful solution to the crisis could have been found. Instead, he has given comfort to the wild men in charge in Washington throughout by denying them the total international isolation their policies warrant. As it is, it is the prime minister himself who is isolated. His war is opposed by most of the people he was elected to represent, and denounced by virtually every expert on international law except the attorney general, as well as by almost every other country he would like to claim as a friend.'

Australian PM Howard, in his own small way, shares in this great shame.

Masters of War
'"The United States, the world's leading arms supplier, is taking the world to war to stop arms proliferation in the very country to which is shipped chemicals, biological seed stock and weapons for more than 10 years..." "So now the administration knows that it can make unsubstantiated claims, without paying a price when those claims prove false, and that saber rattling gains it votes and silences opposition."'

US Military consumes half federal budget
'"The Fiscal Year 2004 budget request includes $782 billion for discretionary spending (the money the President and Congress must decide and act to spend each year), $399 billion of which will go to the Pentagon. The "National Defense" category of the federal budget for FY04 accounts for over half (51.0 percent) of all discretionary spending." By comparison, the next largest federal budget category is $55 billion for education.'

Ultimatums and War
'"You don't issue ultimatums. The other guy is unlikely to comply with them, and when he doesn't, you will have to do what you said you would do." Of course, Mrs. Smith?s observations were based on the assumption that no sane person would really want to go to war... Little would poor Mrs. Smith have imagined that the day would come when the United States of America would issue ultimatums precisely in the expectation that the other guy would not back down, thus affording us a window of opportunity to clobber him.'

'Dwight Eisenhower rejected this idea [preventive war] as unacceptably outdated in 1953 when some of his advisors suggested a “preventive war” against Stalin's Soviet Union. Speaking with considerably more authority on the subject of war than George Bush will ever have, Eisenhower observed: "All of us have heard this term 'preventive war' since the earliest days of Hitler. I recall that is about the first time I heard it. In this day and time . . . I don't believe there is such a thing; and frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing"'

'The current administration rushes eagerly from diplomatic fiasco to military initiative, mindlessly oblivious of the fact that this scenario has been enacted before, by others who dismissed the possibility that military initiative might lead to global disaster. When will the self-styled masters of the new world order learn that there is no future in reaping the whirlwind? When will the rest of us tire of sitting in front our TV sets, regarding international catastrophe as a spectacle provided for our entertainment?'

Shock and Awe: CIA Questioned forged Documents used by Bush
'Shortly after receiving the documents, the United States turned them over to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Within weeks, U.N. inspectors, along with an independent team of international experts, determined that the documents were fake.'

This is another in a string of devastating guided missile strikes on the credibility of the Bush Administration and their case for war. At the start of the Second World War On 1st September 1939 a head of state addressed the national parliament and said, among other things "As always, I attempted to bring about, by the peaceful method of making proposals for revision, an alteration of this intolerable position. It is a lie when the outside world says that we only tried to carry our revisions through by pressure... I made one more final effort to accept a proposal for mediation on the part of the British government... I, therefore, decided last night and informed the British government that in these circumstances I can no longer find any willingness on the part of the Polish government to conduct serious negotiations with us. The other European states understand in part our attitude. I should like all to thank Italy, which throughout has supported us, but you will understand for the carrying on of this struggle ... we will carry out this task ourselves.This night for the first time, Polish regular soldiers fired on our territory. Since 5:45 a.m. we have been returning the fire and from now on bombs will be met with bombs." The world now sits back in shock and awe as President Bush launches his great war with lies, deceptions and justifications little better than that of Hitler himself.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Phony 48hr ultimatum
'Yet in the vaunted 48-hour warning period that led up to the war, the Bush Administration pulled the rug out from under any potential Iraqi coup. [Whitehouse spokesman] Ari Fleischer (or at least it appeared to be Fleischer and not a body double) stated unequivocally that even if Saddam was ousted, or left the country voluntarily, the U.S.-British forces would still invade'

This promise to invade Iraq even if Saddam fled the country as ordered is another damaging blow to what's left of the credibility of the United States. In the unlikely event that Saddam did flee, some excuse would have to be manufactured to effect the conquest and occupation as planned. But why do they have to openly admit such things, it shreds the credibility of the President's internationally televised 'ultimatum' address? It seems to me that the arrogance and hubris of the Bush gang is out of control, they still have not come to grips with the damage it is doing to their own cause.

Medialens critique of Blair warspeech and fawning media reaction
'Anyone who has seen the footage of Hitler giving his rasping, demonic speeches must surely wonder how anyone could have taken him seriously. Now, of course, Hitler strikes us as plainly mad, a case study in egomania - we feel sure we have grown beyond the gullibility of the past. But established power never loses its capacity to mesmerise. Psychologist Stanley Milgram noted the disturbing fact that there is "a propensity for people to accept definitions provided by legitimate authority", not because those definitions are rooted in reason, but because "those in authority acquire, for some, a suprahuman character". Philosopher Henry Thoreau identified one interesting consequence: "Every generation laughs at the old generation, but follows religiously the new."'

PM Howard's speech on declaring war against Iraq
'There's also another reason and that is our close security alliance with the United States. The Americans have helped us in the past and the United States is very important to Australia's long-term security. It is critical that we maintain the involvement of the United States in our own region where at present there are real concerns about the dangerous behaviour of North Korea. The relationship between our two countries will grow more rather than less important as the years go by.'

Not to mention that America has deliberately provoked the North Korean crisis with its bellicose rhetoric and the best thing would be for it to depart the region, it seems to me that the the 'US Alliance' is the real and basic reason for Howard's extraordinary commitment of Australia to this illegal and unnecessary war. Not only did Australia not have to participate in this war at all, if we participated it could have been only under the banner of a UN mandate, or a limited or token commitment of forces, perhaps some naval force only. Instead Howard has gone to the utmost, committing substantial forces, without UN mandate, against the will of the people, against the wishes of countries in our region and around the world, against advice that it will damage our relations in the region and increase our exposure to terrorism.

The view Howard seems to take as a fundamental personal belief is that the more servile and slavish Australia is to America, the more reckless our commitment, the more we are prepared to debase ourselves for America, the more it is in our interest, as if America will reward those who fawn upon it rather than follow its own interests as overriding policy. As someone has said, he is backing American in case Indonesia invades us. As if Indonesia would invade us, and as if America would come to our assistance, unless it was in their own interest. Just as he cannot cut the apron strings with the British Monarchy, nor can Howard cut the apron strings with the US Presidency. It is more than weak, outdated and humiliating: it is positively dangerous for Australia.

Shoot first and Inspect for Weapons later
'dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, argued that Washington could still gain U.N. approval if its forces found "irrefutable evidence" that the Iraqi regime possessed weapons of mass destruction..."Even without such evidence, the United States and its allies can justify their intervention if the Iraqi people welcome their coming and if they turn immediately back to the United Nations to help rebuild the country," she wrote in the New York Times.'

'But LCNP President Peter Weiss strongly denounced that reasoning, calling it "shocking beyond belief, coming from the current president of the American Society of International Law."'

This article includes comments by other authorities which back the position that the war is illegal. The poverty of administration arguments, however, speak for themselves: if we find evidence AFTER we have destroyed the country, that justifies it; if we rebuild the country after we have destroyed it, that justifies it. John Howard associates himself and Australia with this kind of reasoning.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Govts call for 'Uniting For Peace' UN meeting
'All over the world, governments and civil society groups are proposing to take the US-led attack on Iraq to the UN General Assembly under a procedure known as "Uniting for Peace."  The US is so alarmed that it has launched a preemptive attack with a letter to all countries in the world which  "demands" that they avoid "calls for an emergency session of the General Assembly.'

Chomsky: Deep Concerns
'Fear of the US government is not based solely on this invasion, but on the background from which it arises: An openly-declared determination to rule the world by force, the one dimension in which US power is supreme, and to make sure that there will never be any challenge to that domination. Preventive wars are to be fought at will: Preventive, not Pre-emptive. Whatever the justifications for pre-emptive war might sometimes be, they do not hold for the very different category of preventive war: the use of military force to eliminate an imagined or invented threat. The openly-announced goal is to prevent any challenge to the power, position, and prestige of the United States. Such challenge, now or in the future, and any sign that it may emerge, will be met with overwhelming force by the rulers of the country that now apparently outspends the rest of the world combined on means of violence, and is forging new and very dangerous paths over near-unanimous world opposition: development of lethal weaponry in space, for example.'

Mark Latham MP: The march of folly
Worthwhile parliamentary speech by the Labor MP articulating a coherent case against Australia's involvement in the war.

IPA News Release: White House Claims: A Pattern of Deceit
Documents some of the deceits and contradictions of the White House over such matters as UN Resolution; Iraq nuclear and missile weapons; and links to Al-Qaeda.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

The Lilliputians Are No Longer Tiny People
'And yet, the U.S. has already lost the battle. So far, U.S. power could count on its total control of public consciousness in large parts of the world. In its past wars, the millions of Lilliputians sat glued to their TV sets and watched the propaganda broadcasts, identical on all channels. They watched and believed that the war is for sublime values of peace and justice. Now as well, obedient spokesmen explain that Saddam is Hitler and the Iraqi children must be saved from him. But who is listening?

'Now the truth is exposed - the U.S. is perceived as a gangster that does whatever he feels like. In the past, the U.S. committed its crimes to the sounds of cheers of the majority of the Western society. It has lost this majority. The change that has occurred in the world can no longer be reversed.'

What Tanya Reinhardt says here is very likely true, and I dont think media outlets, governments and corporations have yet come to terms with this new and revolutionary reality.

Critique of Bush address 17/3/03
Stephen Zunes' excellent point-by-point demolition of Bush's ultimatum and virtual declaration of war against Iraq.

Nuclear Inspectors Reportedly Angry at US false leads, distortions
'Recent inspection teams have included a new batch of U.S. nuclear scientists from Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos national laboratories. The U.N. official described these inspectors as arriving as hawks and leaving as doves, after finding Iraq ``a ruined country, not a threat to anyone.' It is a view radically different than the administration's.'

US plan: an iron fisted junta without Saddam
Plausible piece on US political objectives in the war, which will determine how the war is fought. A massive armoured column will race to Baghdad, and then hold a short political pause. The hope is for a coup or collapse of the regime within days. Failing that, an assault on Baghdad with overwhelming force will be launched.

Miranda Devine on 'supporting the troops'
'Anti-war protests made some sense before our troops were committed, so those opposed to Australian involvement in Iraq could send a message to Canberra. But now they just appear to be the futile gesture of sore losers who don't care who they hurt. Protesters should understand they have lost the argument. Whatever your position on the war, the only outcome of continuing activism is to create more discord and division at a time when troops need to know they are supported at home.'

Washington made up its mind to attack Iraq at least 6 months ago, possibly as long as over a year, dating back to the 'axis of evil' speech in January 2002. Inspections have been a charade and only a miracle could ever have stopped the war on Iraq. The purpose of protest has rather been to expose and condemn American militaristic hegemonism, and, if not stop the war on Iraq, generate resistance which may stop further attacks. In this the protest movement, historic opposition from Europe, and effective international diplomacy have been spectacularly successful, and must not, cannot stop now. The work has only just begun.

The best way to 'support our troops' is to bring them home: disengage from action, redeploy to the rear, and be brought home. We want them to neither kill nor be killed. Devine shows how the call to 'support our troops' easily translates into pro-war propaganda. Australian troops in this war are all volunteers, as opposed to the conscripts who were sent to Vietnam. They have a choice - they could resign from the force or even simply decline the potentially dangerous anthrax vaccine. In one of the most shameful episodes in Australian military history, 'our troops' are being treated like mercenaries, the 'American Gurkhas': crack, underpaid mercenary troops who can be sent anywhere no questions asked, including illegal, immoral wars of aggression against more or less defenceless populations on behalf of an empire which owes them nothing. At least Turkey bargained hard for cash and other benefits. What has Howard won, either for 'our troops' or Australia generally? Howard seems to be operating under the delusion that if we serve America slavishly, then when we call in the debt, America will respond. His experience over Timor has not disabused him of this notion.

Le Monde on 70s origins of neo-conservatism
'In the aftermath of 11 September, the Bush administration turned the campaign against terrorist networks into a war against the "axis of evil". In so doing, it was simply pursuing a strategic and political policy defined in the 1970s and revised in the early 1990s to meet the needs of the post-cold war era. The doctrine of pre-emptive strikes, officially adopted in September 2002, certainly breaks with the policy of containment and deterrence the US had consistently pursued. But it is in line with the unwavering determination of the radical, nationalist and neo-conservative American right to wage war to establish its authority.'

US Media Corporation Sponsors pro-war rallies
'A spokeswoman for Clear Channel said the rallies, called "Rally for America," are the idea of Glenn Beck, a Philadelphia talk show host whose program is syndicated by Premier Radio Networks, a Clear Channel subsidiary... "They're not intended to be pro-military. It's more of a thank you to the troops. They're just patriotic rallies," said Clear Channel spokeswoman Lisa Dollinger.'

'Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, said the company's support of the Bush administration's policy toward Iraq makes it "hard to escape the concern that this may in part be motivated by issues that Clear Channel has before the FCC and Congress."'

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Gettysburg Address: Powerpoint Presentation
Iconic phrase "Four score and seven years" turned into a gratuitous graph.

Occupied Afghanistan: Bad as ever
'The situation in Afghanistan, according to media reports and human rights organizations, is rapidly reverting to what it was during the period of Taliban rule. For example, the "Islamic Morality Police," who operate on the streets of Kabul, are seizing men and women who do not behave according to the rules of Islam. A judge who was appointed by Karzai ruled this week that cable television must be prohibited because it is contrary to the Islamic faith. The lopping off of organs - which has again become a form of punishment in the provinces - along with public flogging by policemen and torture of prisoners no longer draw public attention.'

'The presence of about 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan is also starting to cause difficulties. Shooting at American targets as well as the planting of bombs and the mining of patrol roads are becoming daily occurrences. In the three weeks between January 16 and February 5, 30 incidents were recorded, involving shooting, abductions of civilians and other attacks. Posters attacking the presence of the American forces are put up in mosques overnight.'

Walk Against The War: Assemble Belmore Park 12.30pm Sunday 23 March
'Despite global opposition in public opinion and in the United Nations, President Bush, Prime Minister Blair and Prime Minister Howard are now committed to invade Iraq in the next two days. Our historic people's movement has slowed them down and isolated them. We can limit the damage and stop the next mad military adventure by renewing our protests and forcing our government to bring the troops home.'

'Walk Against The War. No War on Iraq. Bring the Troops Home. Emergency Protests in Sydney. Sunday March 23 - giant protest. Assemble Belmore Park (opp Central Station) 12.30 pm. Come early. Bring water. Peaceful Walk Against The War to Domain via Elizabeth St, Park St. College St. Use Domain Car Park side.'

Sorry, Mr Blair [Howard], but 1441 does not authorise force
The 'Junior Prime Minister' [Howard's] legal argument for war is the same as the 'Foreign Minister' [Blair.] This article is a discussion of the legal arguments available to Blair and their weaknesses. There are three possible arguments: self-defence under article 51 (but the government has a credibility problem as no one thinks Iraq is about to attack the UK or Australia); Resolution 1441 and the 'serious consequences' clause (but the resolution avoided the war clause 'all necessary means'); and Resolution 687 'destroy all weapons of mass destruction' (but that Resolution did not authorise that force be used, the Security Council retains that power). Resolution 678, often referred to, did authorise 'all necessary means', ie force, but that applied only to evicting Iraq from Kuwait in 1991.

Howard legal advice on Iraq war flawed - experts
'Two Australian legal academics, Professor Hilary Charlesworth and Associate Professor Don Rothwell, said the advice to the Howard and Blair governments was flawed, because existing resolutions only authorised the use of force in the event of a further invasion by Iraq of Kuwait. "To trace original authority for the use of force in 678 to current circumstances goes against the plain meaning of words and against the whole fabric of the UN charter," Professor Charlesworth said.

'She accused the Governments' lawyers of selectively using phrases from UN resolutions to support their case. Professor Rothwell said resolution 1441 had expressly left it to the Security Council to determine whether there had been a breach by Iraq severe enough to justify the use of force.'

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Bush as Hitler: USA is a Rogue State
'While selling his attack on Iraq, Bush often draws an analogy with Hitler's Germany. He likens the threat posed to the world by Saddam today to the threat posed by Hitler in the mid 30s. The point that he tries to make is that it would cost the world much more to tackle Saddam later if he is not tackled now, just as it would have been less wasteful to stop Hitler when he just began his aggressions over Eastern Europe. While the analogy between Saddam and Hitler may be laughable, it is instructive, though frightening, to draw an analogy between Bush and Hitler and the threats posed by them to other nations and to world peace.

'There is no comparison between the absolute and relative, offensive and destructive military power in Hitler's arsenal and that available to Bush today. The US has more than 50% of the world's military hardware including more than 10,000 nuclear weapons and enormous quantities of chemical and biological weapons. It can destroy the planet many times over and render it unfit for any form of life. It spends more on offensive military hardware than all the rest of the world put together. Compared to the military arsenal of the US today, Germany's under Hitler was nothing. The lack of respect of the US for international law is evident not only in the number of occasions that it has engaged in unilateral overt military aggression over countries during the last 50 years, (China, Korea, Guatemala, Indonesia, Cuba, Congo, Peru, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, Libya, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Iraq, Bosnia, Sudan, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan) but also from the number of occasions that it has vetoed unanimous Security Council resolutions which were passed to make Israel comply with international law.'

'But, it may be objected, that it would be unfair to compare Bush with Hitler, since Bush leads a democratic country, while Hitler had established a dictatorship. But even Hitler had come to power through a democratic election. It was only thereafter, that he used the Reichstag fire and the demonising of the Jews to generate mass hysteria and acquire absolute power. Hasn't Bush also used the events of September 11 to carefully orchestrate his "war on terror" to generate the same kind of hysteria. He has used that hysteria to get the Congress to abdicate and cede many of its powers to him, particularly the all-important power of permitting attack on other countries under the cover of this war on terror. He has even got several draconian laws passed, including the infamous Patriot Act, which is being used to erode civil liberties and gradually take the US on the path of a Police State. Several thousand persons have been imprisoned by the government since September 11 without charges and without trial. Several thousand others are being held in inhuman conditions in Guantanamo Bay without trial. Even though the US government holds them, the US courts have held that they have no jurisdiction to entertain petitions on behalf of such prisoners.'

Less than half the American voters voted in the last Presidential election and Bush received a fraction under half that total, or a statistical tie as Chomsky has said. This means he gained the Presidency with about 25% of eligible voters - less than Hitler's Nazi party received. More significantly, the Bush gang stole the election from Al Gore, in all likelihood the rightful winner. The Bush Gang suffers from hubris and this may be their downfall as the American elite imposes discipline on their unsustainable foreign policy and extremely poor diplomacy. Also of course, the Gang is not explicitly devoted to smashing democracy altogether and establishing dictatorship as Hitler was. Nevertheless, the next Presidential election is a critical moment. It remains to be seen how close Bush will be to re-election and what corrupt and undemocratic techniques the Gang is prepared to utilise in order to remain in power. The trend of events is clear but history does not repeat in the same way each time. More likely is a new and distinctive form of 'American Fascism', which continues to incorporate American institutions such as the Democrats, Mass Media, Giant Corporations and Religious Fundamentalism, in a slow and steady economic, social and military decline, punctuated by paroxysms of extreme violence directed against hapless victims in the Third World - a decline which can only be countered by a grass roots awakening.

No independent Palestine, Sharon insists, rejects 'Road Map'
'Israel is to press George Bush to eliminate all reference to an "independent" Palestinian state from the US "road map" to a political settlement, which he promised on Friday to release soon. Ariel Sharon's government has drawn up a list of amendments it wants made. They include the replacement of independence by "certain attributes of sovereignty". It is not immediately clear what these are, but Mr Sharon has said what they do not include. Israel, he says, will retain control of the Palestinian state's external security, borders, airspace, and underground water resources, and will have a veto over treaties with other countries.

'Mr Sharon does not want to have to abide by international law and remove illegal Jewish settlements. His team has proposed that the settlements should be allowed to go on expanding until there is "a continuous and comprehensive security calm". Even then the government wants "natural growth" to be allowed. The Palestinians are pressing for the map's immediate implementation, but the Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants have dismissed Mr Bush's promise to release it as a "bribe" to enable the US to make war on Iraq.'

The PLO continues to lose ground to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Why on earth cant the PLO articulate their basic demand for the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers and settlers from the Occupied Territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state in those territories? They perpetually fail to project their goals to the Israeli, Western and especially the American publics. They need to be 'on message'. All Palestinian spokespersons should be drilled that they are not allowed to speak accept that they clearly and explicitly articulate these demands on every occasion.

Howard fails to produce legal advice to establish legality of war
'Yesterday, at the beginning of a week when John Howard admitted Australia could invade Iraq without UN approval, he said this: "It's very important as we start the week off that people understand that there is adequate legal authority under existing Security Council resolutions for action to be taken without the need for a further resolution." Today, he refused point blank to release the legal advice he said proved his claim....

'Sydney's top barrister, Bret Walker SC, challenged the government to release contrary advice, if it had any. His challenge went unanswered... Here's what the government normally does in relation to legal advice on politically contentious matters. If the advice suits its argument it releases it, either in full or by showing reporters parts of the text. If the advice does not suit its case, it refuses to do so.'

Its a predictable move by Howard following the failure of the second resolution to pass to claim legitimacy based on resolution 1441 and other resolutions. Lets hope Labor doesnt take too long to clarify its position on whether it thinks aggressive, unprovoked war is legal or not.

US, UK, Spain withdraw resolution
'The United States, Britain, Spain today withdrew a draft resolution seeking UN Security Council authority for military action to disarm Iraq. British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock blamed France for threatening to veto the resolution which would have issued Iraq with an ultimatum to disarm by Monday or face military action. "We have had to conclude that council consensus will not be possible," Greenstock said, flanked by US Ambassador John Negroponte. Mr Negroponte said he thought the vote would have "been close." "We regret that in the face of an explicit threat to veto the vote counting became a secondary consideration," Mr Negroponte said. Moments later, French ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said that in one-on-one consultations in the past hours "the majority of the council confirmed they do not want a use of force."'

One would surmise that the French Ambassador is correct, that is, that the US failed to achieve a majority on the Security Council. Nevertheless Chirac's threat to veto the resolution has been used against him effectively in the propaganda wars, at least in the Anglo-Saxon corporate media. Either it was an error for Chirac to be so explicit about the use of veto, or else he believed that he had to do so in order to defeat US efforts to get the 'moral majority' of Security Council members.

Monday, March 17, 2003

The emerging Superpower of Peace
'Through the internet, the nonviolent movement is linked by billions of e-mails and forwarded articles meant to surround and circumvent the corporate media... No matter what ultimately happens in Iraq, the new millennium will be neither American nor Chinese nor European nor military nor corporate nor dictatorial. It belongs to the Superpower of Peace, being born before our electronic eyes.'

Not so long ago it was a struggle to get people to comprehend the very concept of 'corporate propaganda'; and now it is collapsing even as we watch. Just 15 years after the publication of Manufacturing Consent.

Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz Urged Clinton to disregard UN, attack Iraq for oil
'DONALD Rumsfeld, the US defense secretary, and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz wrote to President Bill Clinton in 1998 urging war against Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein because he is a 'hazard' to 'a significant portion of the world's supply of oil'. In the letter, Rumsfeld also calls for America to go to war alone, attacks the United Nations and says the US should not be 'crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council'.

'Those who signed the letter, dated January 26, 1998, include Bush's current Pentagon adviser, Richard Perle; Richard Armitage, the number two at the State Department; John Bolton and Paula Dobriansky, under-secretaries of state; Elliott Abrams, the presidential adviser for the Middle East and a member of the National Security Council; and Peter W Rodman, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.'

US credibility eroded by false intelligence
'Questionable US and British intelligence assertions about purported Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have undercut the Bush administration's credibility in building a case before the UN Security Council, according to analysts and some diplomats. The most serious blunder, put forth by British intelligence and cited by President Bush in his State of the Union address, involved an assertion that Niger, the West African country, had sold tons of uranium to Iraq. The Central Intelligence Agency, as well as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, acknowledged late last week that the documents were forged, six days after top UN nuclear weapons inspector, Mohamed ElBaradei, said his team had found the documents to lack authenticity.

'Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, asked the FBI on Friday to investigate whether the US government had been involved in the creation of the Niger documents to build support for administration policies. An investigation, Rockefeller said in a letter to the FBI director, Robert S. Mueller III, should ''at a minimum help to allay any concerns.'' Powell has denied any US involvement. But other US charges -- on Iraq's use of aluminum tubes for a nuclear program, drones that might be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons, mobile biological labs, and chemical bunkers -- have come under sharp attack among UN officials or diplomats. In addition, Bush's report of a poison plant in northeast Iraq was found by numerous reporters visiting the site to have been a dilapidated collection of buildings. At the Security Council, some are questioning the veracity of any US claim regarding Iraq.'

Serious Defence Disquiet against Australian Iraq policy
'Their combined reasons are many - lack of proven links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, absence of immediate threat, concerns about the massive pressure put on the UN, the arm-twisting of small countries on the Security Council, concern about the precedents set by a pre-emptive strike under such conditions, and civilian casualties and worries about the aftermath.

'Admiral Knox warns: "There'll be 100,000 or more terrorists sign up to Osama bin Laden - generations of hate directed towards the US and its partners in this undertaking." Air Marshal Funnell called the policy "strategic stupidity on a monumental scale".'

The War of Misinformation Has Begun
Robert Fisk piece on the likely progress of the war and the catchphrases by which it will be reported in the propagandistic Western press.

Neo-conservative plan to re-make the entire middle east (via DY)
This article is a somewhat speculative but plausible discussion of plans by the neo-conservative cabal to demolish the entire region and reconstitute it under American/Israeli military domination. Iraq is first, but after Iraq Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia are targeted. The caveat is that "the Bush administration, including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, might not have the guts to see its plan all the way through once Hussein is toppled... But... President Bush is fully committed, having been deeply affected by the events of September 11."