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part of the warmwell Iraq War archive : Feb - March 2003


March 31 2003 ~ No one here believes this is a humanitarian war

Jonathan Steele in Damascus The Guardian (external link) "In this highly politicised city where anger over the invasion of Iraq alternates with pride in the resistance, there is one sure way to lighten the mood. Suggest that George Bush and Tony Blair launched their war because of Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction. Hoots of derision all round. Whether they are Syrians or members of the huge Iraqi exile community, everyone here believes this is a war for oil. In nearby Jordan and across the Arab world the view is the same. ....
.... Leaks from the state department's "future of Iraq" office show Washington plans to privatise the Iraqi economy and particularly the state-owned national oil company. Experts on its energy panel want to start with "downstream" assets like retail petrol stations. This would be a quick way to gouge money from Iraqi consumers. Later they would privatise exploration and development. Even if majority ownership were restricted to Iraqis, Russia's grim experience of energy privatisation shows how a new class of oil magnates quickly send their profits to offshore banks. If the interests of all Iraqis are to be protected, it would be better to keep state control and modify the UN oil-for-food programme, which has been a relatively efficient and internationally supervised way of channelling revenues to the country's poor. ..."

March 31 ~ "illegal combatants" will be shipped to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay

From the Washington Post (external link)"...The British troops found no sign of chemical or biological weapons, although they discovered crates of gas masks and chemical protection suits and containers of packets of atropine, the antidote to the deadly nerve agent VX.
... American forces have started rounding up Iraqi men in civilian clothes suspected of being involved with paramilitary squads. Marines patrolling in Nasiriyah and other areas of heavy fighting have detained more than 300 men in civilian clothes.
Military lawyers are drafting new criteria to guide troops on when they should take into custody Iraqis who appear to be civilians. Those detained are being locked up in facilities separate from prisoners of war, until a hearing is held under the Geneva Convention . Any deemed to be POWs will be held until the end of the war and then released. Those prisoners found to have used civilians as human shields or otherwise violated international laws of war will be deemed "illegal combatants" and shipped to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or other facilities.

March 31 - Denial from Washington

(Washington Post) "....The Pentagon's top military and civilian officials took to the Sunday television talk shows to insist that a major attack on Baghdad remains part of the U.S. war plan, although they said it will not take place until conditions are more favorable to U.S. forces. They rejected arguments from some current and retired military officers that the war had been started with an inadequate number of ground forces.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, denied reports that a pause in the rush to the Iraqi capital had been ordered while the southern part of the country is pacified, supply lines are secured and troop reinforcements arrive. But they stressed that the battle for Baghdad would be tougher than any military engagement thus far. "There are difficult days ahead. Baghdad is not going to be easy," Rumsfeld said. ..."

March 31 ~ Denial from Robin Cook

Today's Mirror "....Mr Cook appeared to water down his comments, claiming in a Radio 4 interview that he wanted Britain to "see the job through". He added: "I am not in favour of abandoning the battlefield and that is not my position. "There can be no question at this stage of letting Saddam off the hook." But he added Mr Blair should recognise what the consequences of a siege of Baghdad would be. He warned of a "very serious risk of humanitarian tragedy".
Mr Cook's outspoken remarks, particularly those in the Sunday Mirror, stunned Downing Street and triggered a brutal response....
.anti-war Labour MPs rallied round Mr Cook. Ex-Armed Forces Minister Doug Henderson echoed his call for troops to be brought home. He said the Government must remove itself from the "hellish" situation in Iraq to avoid another potential Vietnam. Earlier, Mr Cook expressed his "serious concern" over US threats to Iran and Syria - and criticised American Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He said: "I can't think of anything worse for the present situation than convincing the neighbours of Iraq that they are next on the list."....(more)

March 31 ~ !00,000 tonnes of wheat from Australia - no date yet for Um Qasr in spite of safe docking of Sir Galahad (carrying estimated 650 tonnes of aid)

Reuters (external link) "Two giant ships carrying 100,000 tonnes of Australian wheat are awaiting the all-clear to dock at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr and it is unclear when they will be able to unload, officials said on Monday.
Despite the safe arrival of British supply ship Sir Galahad last Friday, carrying food, medicine, blankets and fresh water, the Australian government's aid agency said no date had been set for sending in the two wheat ships waiting off the coast of Oman. "(Security) has been the issue," said an AusAID spokeswoman. "We still don't have any advice as to when it will be safe. These ships are huge." Australia's national wheat exporter AWB Ltd had expected the docking of the Sir Galahad to pave the way for the wheat deliveries, possibly over the weekend...."

March 31 ~ Jay Garner, the retired US general who will oversee humanitarian relief and reconstruction in postwar Iraq, is president of an arms company...

Observer (external link) ".. that provides crucial technical support to missile systems vital to the US invasion of the country. Garner's business background is causing serious concerns at the United Nations and among aid agencies, who are already opposed to US administration of Iraq if it comes outside UN authority, and who say appointment of an American linked to the arms trade is the 'worst case scenario' for running the country after the war. Garner is president of Virginia-based SY Coleman, a subsidiary of defence electronics group L-3 Communications, which provides technical services and advice on the Patriot missile system being used in Iraq. ....... Phil Bloomer of Oxfam said 'The worst case scenario would be to put in charge of the reconstruction someone from the US or UK linked to the arms or oil industries.' .... The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that it was a Patriot missile that was involved when a British Tornado was hit last week. Jack Tyler, an SY Coleman senior vice-president, confirmed that Garner still held his position at the company. "

March 31 ~ "Three soldiers have been sent home for complaining about the way the war is being fought and the growing danger to civilians.

The fact that they are seeking legal advice makes it clear they have been sent home for refusing to obey orders rather than because of any medical or related problems such as shell shock. MoD lawyers were understood last night to be anxiously trying to discover the circumstances surrounding the order to send the soldiers home. Any refusal of soldiers to obey orders is highly embarrassing to the government, with ministers becoming increasingly worried about the way the war is developing. It is also causing concern to British military chiefs who are worried about growing evidence of civilians being killed in fighting involving American soldiers around urban areas in southern Iraq. " See report in the Guardian (external linnk)

March 30 ~"the situation in which we currently find ourselves: a protracted war...."

".. with no second UN Resolution, no commitment to UN governance of post-war Iraq, no commitment to a mid-East peace settlement. But Blair misread the character of American conservatism, its grip on the American body politic and its scope for rationality. He continues to do so, the miscalculation of his life."
Will Hutton, writing in the Observer today.
" ....Rumsfeld's exploded strategy is ideological in its roots. This conservatism is a witches brew - a menace to the USA and the world alike....
...There are only two possible rival power centres that champion a more rational approach to world order - in the US a revived and self-confident Democratic party, and abroad an unified European Union. Britain's national interest requires that we ally ourselves as powerfully as we can with these forces - both of whom are only too ready to make common cause. Blair has done neither. Either he is now a convinced conservative or the author of a historic political misjudgment. Neither the Labour party nor the country can indulge this ineptitude much longer." (More)

March 30 ~ "I got it wrong - very wrong." John Simpson, world affairs editor of the BBC.

TheAge.com (Australia)
"True, I wasn't the only one and if the American tactics had been different I might not have been so wrong after all. But Saddam Hussein's forces have not crumbled quickly, and ordinary Iraqis have not greeted the coalition as their liberators. Instead, there is a growing danger they will see the allies as enemies - as bad, indeed, as Saddam himself.
This, you will remember, was the war which was fought because (as US Vice-President Dick Cheney told the Saudi Foreign Minister) it was "do-able"....... But it is clear hubris played a greater part in the initial planning of this campaign than it should have. And the hubris came not from the American military, who like most senior soldiers are a cautious lot, but from the politicians.
"An explosion of joy will greet our soldiers," said the US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. There has been nothing joyful about the explosions that have greeted the allied forces in Iraq. Why? All my experience in Saddam's Iraq assured me that people longed to be free of him. The analogy, I felt, was with Nicolae Ceaucescu's Romania - when people saw his power was collapsing, they came out to claim their freedom.
.... If, Iraqis reason, the father decided that he wanted, on balance, to keep Saddam in power 12 years ago, maybe the son will want the same thing, whatever he may say now. So they watch the bombs falling and they keep their own counsel. ... Whoever drops the bombs, they're only falling because there is a war; and they don't blame Saddam for that war, they blame the Americans and the British."

March 30 ~ Protest in Edinburgh "The best way to support the troops is to bring them home immediately, that's the way to support them"

Thousands join anti-war march (BBC external link) " Thousands of anti-war protesters have taken to the streets of Edinburgh to register their opposition to military action in Iraq. Police estimated that about 5,000 people took part in the protest in the Scottish capital on Saturday afternoon. However, organisers put the figure at more than 10,000. Protesters marched along Princes Street before heading for a mass rally in the city's Meadows area. They were led by Labour MSP John McAllion and Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan, marching behind a banner reading Stop the Invasion. ..... "I don't want any Armed Service personnel killed or maimed in the same way that I don't want any innocent Iraqis killed or maimed," he said. "The best way to support the troops is to bring them home immediately, that's the way to support them."
Iraqi citizen Susan Karim reminded the crowd that women throughout Britain would be receiving flowers and presents on Sunday for Mother's Day. "But the Iraqi mothers are burying their sons and daughters, the Iraqi children are burying their mothers and some Scottish women are burying their sons as well, needlessly," she said.
... Lothian and Borders Police said the demonstration had been peaceful and no arrests were made. "The vast majority of the crowd were good natured and followed police instructions which ensured that the march went well," said Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Dickson.

March 30 ~ "Leaders of Amnesty International deliver a petition to Downing Street

calling on the prime minister to abide by international law during the conflict in Iraq. Neil Durkin, a spokesman for Amnesty, said: "Eleven to 12 days into the conflict and some of the fears that we were raising are worryingly enough coming true. We are seeing civilians being killed or injured and we have worries about the nature of the strikes and the bombs. Have they been properly targeted, were they discriminate or indiscriminate?"

March 30 ~...fundamental questions about the role of the media to provide an objective and accurate view of war.

Extract from article by Warren Gamble (New Zealand Herald) Bigger picture the first loss of real-time war (external link)
"One of the central debates is whether the media, in particular television, and specifically the "embeds", are serving the Pentagon's propaganda war, their own ratings, or the greater public good. Or perhaps a mixture of all three. New York media columnist Michael Wolff laments that the media have switched into 24-hour war mode, leaving behind the real and continuing debate about whether it is justified. ....It's all spectacle. War is a media thing. N..... Most cable channels have brief segments on antiwar protest marches, and little coverage of the ongoing political opposition.
On the war coverage itself there are questions over bias, problems caused by the round-the-clock immediacy including running with unproven stories, and the pros and cons of the restricted reporting from the field. Some have claimed the television networks are in the Pentagon's propaganda pocket. But after the initial hype surrounding the forces' smooth advance in the first days, there has been a distinct change in the tone and content of the coverage. ....
...impression America and Britain want to convey to a world deeply divided about their campaign, stressing the precision of their strikes aimed at ousting Saddam Hussein while not harming civilians. On the other side, the state-run Iraqi television has used graphic pictures of dead American and British soldiers and Iraqi civilians to convey its own message to its people. The Western media have a continuing dilemma about the sensibility of their audiences to showing such pictures, particularly if an audience includes relatives of a dead soldier. Al-Jazeera has no such restraint and has caused Western outrage by showing the Iraqi footage of dead American and British soldiers and dead civilians, including a boy in Basra with his head blown off. The channel says it is simply showing the reality of war. ...."
Wall-to-wall instant coverage has flushed out another significant problem for television - running with unproven rumours which later turn out to be false. " "

March 30 ~ Another sign of things to come.

Robert Fisk today ".... At least 20 international "human shields" - hitherto "guarding" power stations, oil refineries and food production plants - decided to leave Iraq yesterday. So did all Chinese journalists, on instructions from their government. Not all the optimistic claims from the Iraqi government, a victory against US Marines outside Nasiriyah was among them, could change their minds.
The nightly attacks long ago spread into the daylight hours, so the sound of aircraft and rockets - I have several times actually heard the missiles passing over the central streets - have acquired a kind of normality. A few stores have reopened. There are fresh vegetables again. And like every blitzed people, Baghdadis are growing used to what has become a dull, familiar danger.
Is this "shock and awe", I sometimes ask myself? "

March 30 ~ Cook: Bring troops home

BBC report (and Sunday Mirror article too - both external links)
"Former cabinet minister Robin Cook has called on Tony Blair to bring UK units home from the war in Iraq. Mr Cook - who resigned as Leader of the House of Commons in protest at the decision to launch hostilities without international agreement - denounced the campaign in Iraq as "bloody and unjust". The ex-foreign secretary also warned that Britain and America risked stoking up a "long-term legacy of hatred" for the West across the Arab and Muslim world.
In an outspoken article for the Sunday Mirror, Mr Cook said that US President George W Bush and his Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did not appear to know what to do now that their hopes that Iraq would swiftly capitulate had proved unfounded. They appeared to be contemplating laying siege to Baghdad, which would result in massive civilian suffering and many unnecessary deaths, he said.
Mr Cook wrote: "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."

March 29 ~"The harassment, arrest, detention and frustration of those who are against the war is becoming routine."

Democracy is under threat in the United States; anyone who objects to the conflict in Iraq is not allowed to say so Thursday's Guardian (external link)
"Relatives of victims who died on September 11, who are opposed to the war, have been prevented from speaking in schools. Last month Stephen Downs was handcuffed and arrested after refusing to take off a Give Peace a Chance T-shirt in a mall in Albany. He was told he would have been found guilty of trespass if the mall had not dropped the case because of the bad publicity. As Iraqi civilians and American, British and Iraqi soldiers perish in the Gulf, this war is fast claiming another casualty - democracy in the US. This process is not exclusive to America. Civil liberties have suffered in Britain...."

March 29 ~ Planned UK anti-war protests -

With hostilities under way, anti-war groups are planning their next wave of demonstrations. Andrew Ellson lists the major protests scheduled across the UK ....Guardian page (external link)

March 29 ~If anyone is the "appeaser" it is Blair, in his support for the US government's pre-emptive attack on Saddam. ....

From Tam Dalyell's article in Tuesday's Guardian (external link) " I don't think that Blair really understands the horrors of modern-day warfare. In 1994 I visited Baghdad (all expenses paid by me) and saw the carbonated limbs of women and children who had been impregnated against a wall by the heat of just one cruise missile. In the current war, hundreds of cruise missiles have been launched just to soften up the enemy. We are told that the US intends to use incapacitating bio-chemical and depleted-uranium weapons. We are receiving information that the it intends to use war in Iraq as an opportunity to test out a range of weapons: cluster aviation bombs with self-guided munitions and pulse bombs being examples. ..."

March 29 ~ "I hope I'm wrong, for the sake of the American lives that are going to be lost..."

Scott Ritter, former U.N. weapons inspector and ballistic missile technology expert who worked in military intelligence in the U.S. armed forces. In 1998, Ritter resigned from the U.N. Special Commissions team to protest Clinton Administration policies that he said subverted the weapons inspection process. (From GuluFuture.com)
"Remember I'm a 12 year veteran of the Marine Corps. I fought in the first Gulf War. I know what war is about. I know what defending my country is about.
This is a bad war, because it has nothing to do with the defense of the United States of America. Iraq doesn't have weapons of mass destruction. The Bush Administration has pulled an enormous lie to the international community; to the American people.
And now we're in Iraq --carrying out the right-wing neo-conservative motives of a handful of people; the Richard Perle's, Paul Wolfowitz's; the Dick Cheney's. And we've allowed them to hijack our foreign policy. And they've been cheered on by these Iraqi expatriots, who have zero credibility in my eyes. They're so brave and they want Iraq liberated... Then my goodness man, go to Iraq... fight and die for your country... But don't ask Americans to do it..."

March 28 ~"The burst of gunfire from across the road finally stopped all attempts to supply the aid.

As soldiers leapt into the jeeps, a Warrior turned round and took out the position the gunfire had come from. And with daylight fast fading, the humanitarian taskforce decided to speed back to its base at Shaibah airfield.
Tomorrow, they will undoubtedly try again to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi civilians. And presumably tomorrow, they will encounter yet more resentment. .." Guardian (external link)

March 28 ~ ... let me whisper this truth in your ear: we don't have an answer.

"..We're flummoxed and floundering, as so often when faced with the issue of self-determination. " Guardian yesterday Which peoples should govern themselves? Our answers are as confused as ever (external link) "The Kurdish question raises a cardinal dilemma for the Anglo-Saxon liberal imperialism on which we have so curiously re-embarked at the beginning of the 21st century. When London and Washington were briefly making the case for the Iraq war as a "humanitarian intervention", it was the gassing of the Kurds at Halabja that they always cited, and the killing of an estimated 100,000 Kurds by Saddam's men. Though such comparisons are always odious, the Kurds have suffered even more terribly than the Kosovans. The moral case is also strong for two other reasons. The Bush (senior) administration encouraged the Kurds to rise against Saddam in 1991, and then let him massacre them with the helicopter gunships that Washington let him keep. Britain has its own special responsibility, since the first people to bomb the Kurds were us, when they revolted against the Iraq we created after the first world war. (Since Tony Blair has apologised for the potato famine in Ireland, will he be apologising for this?) "

March 28 ~ Iraq: chemical suits are 'standard'

(Guardian) (external link) " Iraq's information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, insisted today that chemical protection suits found by coalition forces, and cited as evidence that Iraq has chemical weapons, were just "standard equipment" for Iraqi soldiers. He said that they were in no way proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and added that they were normal kit for soldiers around the world."

March 28 ~ "This is the real shock and awe."

Two articles in the Guardian today about Al-Jazeera: "...people are turning to us simply because the western media coverage has been so poor. For although Doha is just a 15-minute drive from central command, the view of events from here could not be more different. Of all the major global networks, al-Jazeera has been alone in proceeding from the premise that this war should be viewed as an illegal enterprise. It has broadcast the horror of the bombing campaign, the blown-out brains, the blood-spattered pavements, the screaming infants and the corpses. Its team of on-the-ground, unembedded correspondents has provided a corrective to the official line that the campaign is, barring occasional resistance, going to plan. "
"...I think if these photos were shown on the general media the anti-war movement would double."
"...She feels frustrated by the one-sided nature of TV coverage " .... these are the real brutalities of liberation. I don't believe the mother of these children will feel any happier if she's liberated, because she's already lost everything. As a mother it makes me so angry. This is what should be shown. This is the real shock and awe."

March 28 ~ Jeremy Paxman

It was a relief last night to find Jeremy Paxman taking John Reid to task for Tony Blair's use of the word "executed" (he had said that Iraq had "executed" the two British soldiers.) Then we heard the truly Freudian slip from Mr Paxman; he referred to "Tony Bush"...

March 28 ~ Robert Fisk: Raw, devastating realities that expose the truth about Basra

...... The unedited al-Jazeera videotape - filmed over the past 36 hours and newly arrived in Baghdad - is raw, painful, devastating.
......The short sequence of the dead British soldiers - over which Tony Blair voiced such horror yesterday - is little different from dozens of similar clips of dead Iraqi soldiers shown on British television over the past 12 years, pictures which never drew any condemnation from the Prime Minister.
......... Far more terrible than the pictures of dead British soldiers, however, is the tape from Basra's largest hospital that shows victims of the Anglo-American bombardment being brought to the operating rooms shrieking in pain. A middle-aged man is carried into the hospital in pyjamas, soaked head to foot in blood. A little girl of perhaps four is brought into the operating room on a trolley, staring at a heap of her own intestines protruding from the left side of her stomach. A blue-uniformed doctor pours water over the little girl's guts and then gently applies a bandage before beginning surgery. A woman in black with what appears to be a stomach wound cries out as doctors try to strip her for surgery. In another sequence, a trail of blood leads from the impact of an incoming - presumably British - shell. Next to the crater is a pair of plastic slippers.
The al-Jazeera tapes, most of which have never been seen, are the first vivid proof that Basra remains totally outside British control. .....
..... optimistic reports from "embedded'' reporters - especially on the BBC - who gave the impression that Basra was "secured'' or otherwise in effect under British control. This the tape conclusively proves to be untrue. ....seeing the tapes, it is hard to imagine that it amounted, if it existed at all, to anything more than a brief gun battle. (Robert Fisk's article)

March 28 ~ Perle of doubtful price?

The resignation of Richard Perle is widely reported. We choose this article from RepubliCons.org (external link)
Perle Resigns: Was it Conflict of Interest or Poor War Planning "The unexpected resignation Richard Perle, one of the chief architects of the US led invasion of Iraq, was largely believed to have stemmed from recent allegations of conflict of interest between his governmental role and his business relationships. Of course, if this were the Bush administration's modus operandi Dick Cheney would have been already shown the door for Halliburton's (see here) immediate profiteering in Iraq. So, what else could bring the "Prince of Darkness" to his knees? Could it be his decade in the making war plan for Iraq is not working?
Consider this: The possibility exists that as the US inserts itself further into an increasingly more intractable war in Iraq that the prognostications by Perle and others were wrong. The fiction advanced in the Perle manifesto was based on the assumption that the Iraqi populace rising in full support of the invading troops and ushering Saddam and his minions out of power. It assumed that the Iraqi military would surrender en masse and even the Republican Guard would wither in response the "shock and awe" propagandizing; that the Saddam regime would implode rapidly and the US would be hailed internationally as the liberator of the enslaved Iraqis. All these predictions and unreasonably Pollyannaish expectations of a brief and decisive conflict that would demonstrate American supremacy and moral rectitude have proven false. ...."

March 28 ~ U.S. ambassador walks out of U.N. debate

Toronto Star (external link) "...The walkout was a dramatic finale to the first open meeting of the bitterly divided council since U.S. and British forces launched their attack last week. Iraq's U.N. envoy Mohammed Al-Douri claimed the United States had arranged contracts to rebuild Iraq in 1997, six years before the U.S.-led war began last week. Negroponte got up and walked out as Al-Douri continued speaking, .... Al-Douri (Iraq's U.N. envoy Mohammed Al-Douri ) said the United States had even planned the carving up of Iraq before Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Almost spluttering, he said the United States now was using the issue of humanitarian aid to hide its "criminal aggression.'' The Iraqi envoy urged the Security Council to halt the war in Iraq, saying ending the conflict was even more important than getting humanitarian assistance into the region. ...... "If the humanitarian issue is very important, it is more important" to halt the war, he said.
"The warning I would like to make to the members of the august council is that the United States and the British were hoodwinked when they were told that the Iraqi people would receive them with flowers and hugs and ululations, and the children and the mothers will rejoice at the coming of the U.S. forces," he said.
It was at that point that Negroponte got up from his seat around the horseshoe-shaped table in the Security Council chamber and walked out.

March 28 ~ "loyal" supporters can expect to be "rewarded"

The Telegraph this morning speculates about Tony Blair's "Post-War" reshuffle: Telegraph "....The fashionable opinion inside government is that Mr Blair will oust Clare Short the International Development Secretary, because of her criticism of his conduct of the Iraq crisis. The counter view is that, with Mr Cook already positioning himself as a future leader of discontented MPs on the centre-Left, Mr Blair will keep her in the Cabinet to limit the problems from the back benches. The burning question is whether Mr Blair would dare to remove Gordon Brown as Chancellor following tensions between the two men over the euro and a range of domestic policy issues. A direct swap between Mr Brown and Jack Straw, the ultra-loyal Foreign Secretary, to whom Mr Blair feels indebted, has been rumoured."

March 27/28 ~ how do we know this is the real George Bush?

A little light relief from the Guardian yesterday (external link) "Yesterday President George Bush made his first public appearance since the start of the war, speaking to service personnel at the MacDill airforce base in Tampa in an obvious bid to reassure Americans and boost the morale of the armed forces. But how do we know this is the real George Bush? Later in the day a man who looked and sounded like Mr Bush appeared alongside Tony Blair at Camp David, leaving intelligence experts to ponder whether a lookalike had been used, and whether the same lookalike had been deployed on both occasions.
It has long been suspected that Mr Bush employs a string of lookalikes for difficult or dangerous speaking engagements, some of whom may have had their ears specially enlarged for the task.
Most of those who regularly monitor Mr Bush's speech patterns believe that it was the genuine article who spoke at Central Command HQ in Florida yesterday, pointing to a characteristic tendency toward quasi-biblical phrasing ....."

March 27 ~ Antics of the President -

See this article by Kevin Lowe is a Canadian expatriate living in Amsterdam.
"If you stayed up late enough to watch the announcement of the start of the war in Iraq, you might have caught a glimpse of something very unsettling. In an apparent error, the BBC aired coverage of pre-speech preparations, live from the satellite feed coming from the Oval Office.......... Bush, the so-called leader of the free world, was sitting behind his desk going over his speech, as we would expect. But then it got weird. I felt like I was looking behind the curtain, and it was uglier than I ever imagined.
Like some class clown trying to get attention from the back of the room, he started mugging for his handlers. His eyes darted back and forth impishly as he cracked faces at others around him. He pumped a fist and self-consciously muttered, "feel good," which was interestingly sanitised into the more mature and assertive, "I'm feeling good" by the same Washington Post.
He was goofing around, and there's only one way to interpret that kind of behaviour just seconds before announcing war on Iraq: the man is an idiot.
Most Europeans and many others around the world have assumed this for some time. To have it actually confirmed - beyond a reasonable doubt - on live television, is perhaps a little too harsh to reconcile with our wish to believe we live in a fair, democratic world of which benevolent forces are mostly in charge. I felt sick."

March 27 ~ The Web sites of Arab news agency Al-Jazeera have been taken offline, with a denial of service attack one possible cause.

http://www.arborwood.com/awforums/show-topic-1.php?start=1&fid=7575&taid=30&topid=1169&ut=1048748835
"The Qatar-based agency, which operates an Arab-language site among its many media properaties, launched an English-language Web site on Monday, providing a starkly different view on the war with Iraq than that offered by many Western media outlets. According to a report on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) online, the English site was hit almost immediately by what they have termed "hacker attacks" and technical glitches. The report quoted Al-Jazeera managing editor Joanne Tucker. "We've had a lot of obstacles thrown in our way," she told the ABC. ...."

March 27 ~ . "How dare you refer to our friends as 'collateral damage? And who is Mr. Bush kidding when he expects us to believe that the US wants to secure Iraq's oil fields for the benefit of Iraqi people?"

"God save all the people," said his father, quietly, "And God save all countries from this destruction." ......... "Most of the casualties are children, elderly people and civilians, What do they have to do with fighting and war?"
From an article at Common Dreams.org
".....We felt some relief in being able to tell patients and their families that people in countries around the world are turning out for massive demonstrations against the war.
Each of these victims whose bedsides we visited today will lie still, hopefully recovering, with many hours to reflect on what has happened to them. Peace activists who continue to fill jails in the US will likewise spend hours of confinement, pained by the cruel stupidity of warfare. Most of us are angry, very angry, - few of us can manage the genuine sweetness of little Ruba Salem whose gaze radiated easy affection in spite of her trauma,-- and yet I believe that we can channel our anger, our disappointment, our frustration and our rage into the kind of energy that will champion nonviolent resistance to the works of war, and an ever deepening desire for the works of mercy."

March 27 ~"As each survivor talked, the dead regained their identities..."

Robert Fisk today in the Independent (external link) ".. There was the electrical shop-owner killed behind his counter by the same missile that cut down Ta'ar and Sermed and the doorman, and the young girl standing on the central reservation, trying to cross the road, and the truck driver who was only feet from the point of impact and the beggar who regularly called to see Mr Danoon for bread and who was just leaving when the missiles came screaming through the sandstorm to destroy him.
In Qatar, the Anglo-American forces - let's forget this nonsense about "coalition" - announced an inquiry. The Iraqi government, who are the only ones to benefit from the propaganda value of such a bloodbath, naturally denounced the slaughter, which they initially put at 14 dead. So what was the real target? Some Iraqis said there was a military encampment less than a mile from the street, though I couldn't find it. Others talked about a local fire brigade headquarters, but the fire brigade can hardly be described as a military target.
Certainly, there had been an attack less than an hour earlier on a military camp further north. I was driving past the base when two rockets exploded and I saw Iraqi soldiers running for their lives out of the gates and along the side of the highway. Then I heard two more explosions; these were the missiles that hit Abu Taleb Street.
Of course, the pilot who killed the innocent yesterday could not see his victims. Pilots fire through computer-aligned co-ordinates, and the sandstorm would have hidden the street from his vision. But when one of Malek Hammoud's friends asked me how the Americans could so blithely kill those they claimed to want to liberate, he didn't want to learn about the science of avionics or weapons delivery systems.
And why should he? For this is happening almost every day in Baghdad..."

March 27 ~ "The United States will not cede control of Iraq to the United Nations

if and when it overthrows President Saddam Hussein, Secretary of State Colin Powell says. "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 told a House of Representatives subcommittee....
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. ......
The question of the U.N. role has come to the fore in the last few days because of debates in New York on the terms for releasing Iraqi oil money to pay for humanitarian relief. The problem is expected to loom even larger if the United States takes control in Baghdad and then starts managing the Iraqi oil industry or seeking funds for reconstruction. Washington will argue that as the victor it has the right to manage the transition to an Iraqi civilian government. Its opponents will say that the invasion was illegal and that the United Nations cannot endorse it retroactively." See the Swissinfo website (external link)

March 27 ~ Mankind is experiencing "a difficult moment in history, with the world taking up arms once again".

Pope John Paul made a fresh appeal for peace in Iraq and said his heart was "oppressed" by the news of battles. Speaking to thousands of pilgrims and tourists in St Peter's Square, he asked Catholics around the world to continue praying for peace. The 82-year-old Pope, who headed the Vatican's diplomatic campaign to avert war, said that when he prayed he did so "with a heart that is oppressed by news that reaches us from an Iraq in war." ... See more (external link)

March 26/27 ~ Kofi Annan appeals to Security Council to unite and bring relief to Iraqi people

Invoking "the terrifying impact" of war on Iraq, grief for the dead and anguish for the living, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed today to the divided Security Council to unite on a common purpose and to the international community to respond swiftly and generously to a new "flash appeal" for humanitarian aid for the Iraqi people. (More) (external link)

March 26/27 ~ what the Prime Minister calls "our simple patriotism"

It's the kind of patriotism, wrote Tolstoy, "that is nothing else but a means of obtaining for the rulers their ambitions and covetous desires, and for the ruled the abdication of human dignity, reason and conscience." (John Pilger)

March 26 ~ "Blair is on the move over the Atlantic to see Bush, amid mounting evidence that there is indeed fierce disagreement with America on the aftermath of war."

(Channel Four "Snowmail") "A key role for the UN at odds with Washington's determination to have an American military/civilian administration run post-Saddam Iraq, and award American companies the contracts to rebuild the place. ..."

March 26 ~ Annan 'increasingly concerned' by civilian casualties in Iraq

....Mr. Annan said he was confident the UN Security Council would find a solution on adjustments to the now-suspended Oil-for-Food programme, which allows Baghdad to use part of its petroleum sales to buy relief supplies and is responsible for feeding 60 per cent of the Iraqi population. .."UN News Centre external link

March 26 ~ "Yesterday, Tony Blair said that 400,000 Iraqi children had died in the past five years from malnutrition and related causes.."

"..He said "huge stockpiles of humanitarian aid" and clean water awaited them in Kuwait, if only the Iraqi regime would allow safe passage.
In fact, voluminous evidence, including that published by the United Nations Children's Fund, makes clear that the main reason these children have died is an enduring siege, a 12-year embargo driven by America and Britain.
As of last July, $5.4billion worth of humanitarian supplies, approved by the UN and paid for by the Iraqi government, were blocked by Washington, with the Blair government's approval. The former assistant secretary general of the UN, Denis Halliday, who was sent to Iraq to set up the "oil for food programme", described the effects of the embargo as "nothing less than genocide". Similar words have been used by his successor, Hans Von Sponeck. Both men resigned in protest, (external link) saying the embargo merely reinforced the power of Saddam..." John Pilger in the Daily Mirror(external link)

March 26 ~ It is not those who oppose this war who need to justify themselves, regardless of Blair's calls to "support our troops". There is only one way to support them - bring them home without delay.

In 1932, Iraqis threw out their British colonial rulers. In 1958, they got rid of the Hashemite monarchy. Iraqis have shown they can overthrow dictators against the odds. So why have they not been able to throw out Saddam? Because the US and Britain armed him and propped him up while it suited them, making sure that when they tired of him, they would be the only alternative to his rule and the profiteers of his nation's resources. Imperialism has always functioned like that. The "new Iraq", as Blair calls it, will have many models, such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, all of them American conquests and American ruled until Washington allowed a vicious dictatorship to take over. Saddam only came to power after the Americans helped install his Ba'ath Party in 1979. "That was my favourite coup," said the CIA officer in charge." The tireless John Pilger in today's Mirror

March 26 ~ ".. the U.S. miscalculated the response of Iraqis to any invasion. It forgot that people don't take kindly to foreigners telling them what to do, no matter how noble the intentions..."

Today's Toronto Star (external link)
"Relying on the fact that Saddam is a cruel dictator, U.S. war planners assumed that most ordinary Iraqis would welcome anyone who entered their country to depose him.
But as reports from journalists entering southern Iraq demonstrate, this is far from true. The BBC describes Iraqis in the so-called liberated towns as sullen and bitter. Others write of lawlessness and of Iraqi civilians berating the American-led coalition for shelling their towns.
Throughout the south, the U.S. and British have run into far fiercer resistance than they anticipated. Yet the south was supposed to be the easy part, the section of Iraq populated by Shiite Muslims opposed to Saddam.
By contrast, Saddam has described U.S. intentions in language that his countrymen can comprehend. He says Bush wants Iraq's oil...."

March 26 ~".. Independent Strategy believes that the US shows many symptoms of an empire that is cresting. "

Guardian today
"First, it sees deepening mistrust of the US and predicts a rise in terrorism in reaction to US unilateralism. That is certainly the case with the Bush administration, which has made a habit of tearing up international treaties from Kyoto to the anti-ballistic missile treaty. Iraq is the culmination of the Bush administration's unilateralist streak, as the White House plunges into an unpopular war in disregard of the UN security council.
Second, Independent Strategy sees trouble ahead for US economic policy. It notes that Mr Bush has boosted discretionary government spending more than at any time since the Vietnam war. Inheriting big budgetary surpluses from the Clinton administration, the Bush White House is heading for record deficits. ......
Third, what was known as the Washington consensus - free market economics and deregulation - has broken down. ..... "Empires work best when they project power through the successful export of a social model or ideology," argues Independent Strategy. "....Japan and Europe have long rejected both, at least implicitly, as inimical to their culture and alien to their social contract."
Independent Strategy sees the weakening dollar as the fourth strand in the decline of empire. ...(More)

March 26 ~ " Already, reconstruction contracts are being earmarked for politically well-connected American corporations .."

".. like Halliburton (Vice President Dick Cheney's former company) and Bechteland oilmen from Texas have begun making their first forays into Iraq's Rumaila oil field." India today
"Apart from the strategic pay-off in getting to decide how much Iraqi oil is produced and to whom it is sold, there's serious money to be made for American companies. The Iraqi oil industry will need some capital investment but given the high quality of the oil and the relatively low extraction costs, profits will be enormous. Nationalisation of the oil industry in most Arab countries over the years has led to US oil companies being restricted to downstream, i.e. refining and marketing, activities. But the real profits are in upstream, i.e. extraction, operations. If Saddam Hussein is overthrown, US oil companies would be well placed to gain control of Iraqi reserves from the extraction to marketing stage. The US could also block Russian, French and Chinese oil majors from benefiting. Finally, control over the international oil trade will help to protect the dollar's dominant position vis-a-vis long-term rivals like the euro.
But this war is about more than just oil: It is about cementing the domination of the US in a world that is likely to undergo fundamental economic and strategic changes in the next few decades. " More

March 26 ~ "We know that the Americans are again using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq, just as they did in 1991.

But yesterday, the BBC told us that US Marines had called up an A-10 strike aircraft to deal with "pockets of resistance" - a bit more military-speak from the BBC - but failed to mention that the A-10 uses depleted uranium rounds. So for the first time since 1991, we - the West - are spraying these uranium aerosols in battlefield explosions in southern Iraq, and we're not being told. Why not?"
from today's New Zealand Herald.

March 26 ~ The first casualty of battle is often the plan.

"There will be those who say that, "No it's been meticulously planned," but it doesn't feel like it to be here" Robert Fisk "I think the Bush administration has shown as a characteristic, is that it dreams up moral ideas and then believes that they're all true, and characterizes this policy by assuming that everyone else will then play their roles. In their attempt to dream up an excuse to invade Iraq, they've started out, remember, by saying first of all that there are weapons of mass destruction. We were then told that al Qaeda had links to Iraq, which, there certainly isn't an al Qaeda link. Then we were told that there were links to September 11th, which was rubbish. And in the end, the best the Bush administration could do was to say, "Well, we're going to liberate the people of Iraq". And because it provided this excuse, it obviously then had to believe that these people wanted to be liberated by the Americans."

March 26 ~ "Well, poor old UN. Very soon, the Americans are going to need the United Nations as desperately as they wanted to get rid of them..."

".. Because if this turns into the tragedy that it is turning into at the moment, if the Americans end up, by besieging Baghdad day after day after day, they'll be looking for a way out, and the only way out is going to be the United Nations at which point, believe me, the French and the Russians are going to make sure that George Bush passes through some element of humiliation to do that. But that's some way away. Remember what I said early on to you. The Americans can do it- they have the firepower. They may need more than 250,000 troops, but if they're willing to sacrifice lives of their own men, as well as lives of the Iraqis, they can take Baghdad; they can come in. But, you know, I look down from my balcony here next to the Tigris River- does that mean we're going to have an American tank on every intersection in Baghdad? What are they there for- to occupy? To repress? To run an occupation force against the wishes of Iraqis? Or are they liberators? It's very interesting how the reporting has swung from one side to another. Are these liberating forces or occupying forces? Every time I hear a journalist say 'liberation', I know he means 'occupation'. " Robert Fisk

March 26 ~ "They may dislike Saddam but they hate the Americans"

commented a reporter for the Today programme. It was chilling to hear senior doctors in Amman (Jordan) on the World Service, explaining calmly that those responsible for the death of the ten year old boy in Basra, whose head had been shown on television, were "evil...devils..." and how "that British Prime Minister..what's his name...Blair?..." had made such a misguided and terrible mistake to think that the Iraqis would accept an interfering power from thousands of miles away. The expected uprising of the civilian population may or may not come - but it would surely be naïve to think that those brave enough to face down the Ba-ath tyrants, armed to the teeth, are likely then to hand over their country to foreign invaders."

March 26 ~ In relation to reconstruction, of course we want it to be authorised by the United Nations

Tony Blair on March 24 (external link to Hansard) "Let me emphasise again that when we talk of reconstruction we mean the reconstruction of the country following Saddam, not reconstruction to do with allied war campaigns. That reconstruction - that rebuilding of Iraq - will be a lot easier if it has proper United Nations authority. I hope very much that people can come together and make the system work. That will be an important part of bringing the international community back together at the end of this."

March 26 ~ "A Citizen's Declaration

As a US-led invasion of Iraq begins, we, the undersigned citizens of many countries, reaffirm our commitment to addressing international conflicts through the rule of law and the United Nations.
By joining together across countries and continents, we have emerged as a new force for peace. As we grieve for the victims of this war, we pledge to redouble our efforts to put an end to the Bush Administration's doctrine of pre-emptive attack and the reckless use of military power."
This is the text of the declaration that people are being invited to sign at http://www.moveon.org/declaration/

March 25 ~"Madness is the rule in warfare.."

"..When we send our young men and women off to combat we send them into a zone of madness, and they are never the same when they return, whether they are physically injured or not..."
I think the extraordinary televised coverage of the war with Iraq is a good thing. It looks less like a video game these days, and more like the real hell of combat. I don't see how any sane person could watch the astonishing bombardment of Baghdad, and follow the reports on the ground of one human tragedy after another, and remain cavalier about sending troops into harm's way... Wars are planned and championed by the folks who stroll the corridors of power. But they are fought by ordinary men and women and their families, who have to watch their budgets closely, and tend to all their daily duties, while hoping against hope that no one really close to them gets lost in the madness. ..." New York Times Editorial (external link) yesterday.

March 25 ~ Switzerland's largest bank, UBS, is to transfer frozen Iraqi-held assets in the United States to US authorities.

See http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/swissinfo.html?siteSect=41&sid=1715890 "The bank said it would honour a request for the funds, blocked since 1990 under United Nations sanctions, to be handed over. UBS did not specify the exact amount of money involved. Last week, the US authorities ordered 17 banks in the US to release a total of about $1.7 billion (SFr2.4 billion) to the Treasury Department. The money comes from transactions between US oil firms and the Iraqi state oil company."

March 25 ~ "The sovereignty of Britain is now irrevocably compromised ..."

"....Using discredited evidence, lies and criminal thoughtlessness we have been made the second most-hated nation in the world.
....... That quivering sincerity Blair brings out every time he has to sell us another repulsive US directive is just another bit of fakery; it is make-up he slaps on to look good while he covers up the truth. And he doesn't fool Muslims by patting us on the head as he did last week in the Commons: "I know the vast majority of Muslims are good and law-abiding people who are contributing an immense amount to our country." Time to throw up. Again.
This war is immoral, illegal, dangerous and wrong. And even if we get our devastation in fast and Iraqis are dancing in the street, this remains my assessment.
Real patriots should reject the devious calls to "support our boys" now that action has begun. This is abominable blackmail, as vile as the accusation that anti-war people support Saddam. My husband has young male relatives actively engaged in our army. Yet he and his sister are stridently anti-war. ...Our leadership has stamped over our democracy, and our relationships with the European Union and the rest of the world. The hate-mongering against France should make Britons ashamed. ....... Britain was once trusted by Arabs, with whom we shared a long history. ...old post-colonial suspicion had faded and mutual respect was emerging. A new report, Public Diplomacy and the Middle East, by the Foreign Policy Center and the British Council, shows how this trust has collapsed. ...Ponder this as cluster bombs and depleted uranium cause more deaths, as more Iraqi flags are replaced with the stars and stripes (we have witnessed this already), and we join the coalition of the lowly." The Independent today ."

March 25 ~ "So the message from Iraq is clear: go home and leave us alone..."

"... You will never be welcome in Iraq as colonisers. Stop destroying Iraq. Do not bury our nation. Stop the war and give peace and the UN inspectors a chance in the name of humanity. ..."
Dr Burhan M al-Chalabi, chairman of the British Iraqi Foundation and a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs has written in the Guardian today

March 25 ~ One rule for them

"Suddenly, the government of the United States has discovered the virtues of international law. It may be waging an illegal war against a sovereign state; it may be seeking to destroy every treaty which impedes its attempts to run the world, but when five of its captured soldiers were paraded in front of the Iraqi television cameras on Sunday, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, immediately complained that "it is against the Geneva convention to show photographs of prisoners of war in a manner that is humiliating for them".... George Monbiot today (Guardian)

March 25 ~ thought /speech control

"Even the Western Morning News is now staunchly supporting war in Iraq.."writes an emailer from the West Country " ..- on the grounds that we MUST support our soldiers who are only doing their job (and I do support them in my own way - although like Glenda Jackson ( the MP Glenda Jackson described as "needless deaths" those in the the helicopter crash ) I shall never believe that they should be there in the first place) You're quite right of course to be "sad not mad" on the website - it just seems to be another aspect of this thought /speech control that is so prevalent today.... My father must be revolving at speed in his grave - he was Old Labour and firmly believed in freedom of speech and the right to object. Why should anybody be forced to change how they express their views on war solely because their opinions (and those of millions of others) have been disregarded and soldiers been sent out to wage a war despite them?"

March 25 ~ The International Committee of the Red Cross accused coalition forces yesterday of failing to follow the Geneva Conventions in their treatment of prisoners of war.

Telegraph today (external link)"....In a letter to The Telegraph today, Louise Christian, solicitor for three British detainees in Guantanamo Bay, said the US was breaching international law there. "On their original arrest Guantanamo detainees too were humiliated and paraded on TV manacled, shackled and hooded," she said...."

March 25 ~ This is the reality of war. We bomb. They suffer

The Independent on Sunday. Veteran war reporter Robert Fisk tours the Baghdad hospital to see the wounded after a devastating night of air strikes ".... let's forget, for a moment, the cheap propaganda of the regime and the equally cheap moralising of Messrs Rumsfeld and Bush, and take a trip around the Al-Mustansaniya College Hospital. ......Donald Rumsfeld says the American attack on Baghdad is "as targeted an air campaign as has ever existed" but he should not try telling that to five-year-old Doha Suheil. She looked at me yesterday morning, drip feed attached to her nose, a deep frown over her small face as she tried vainly to move the left side of her body. The cruise missile that exploded close to her home in the Radwaniyeh suburb of Baghdad blasted shrapnel into her tiny legs they were bound up with gauze and, far more seriously, into her spine. Now she has lost all movement in her left leg..."

March 24 ~ Iraq is the first instance in which the Bush doctrine is being applied, and it is provoking an allergic reaction...." George Soros, chairman of the Open Society Institute and of Soros Fund Management

See article "...The doctrine is built on two pillars: First, the United States will do everything in its power to maintain unquestioned military supremacy; second, it arrogates the right to preemptive action. These pillars support two classes of sovereignty: American sovereignty, which takes precedence over international treaties; and the sovereignty of all other states, which is subject to the Bush doctrine. This is reminiscent of George Orwell's Animal Farm: All animals are equal but some are more equal than others. ..." (more)

March 24 ~"those who want less filtered information . .."

Read the article 'Embedded' in spin from Daily Camera.com
"..Now control is even tighter. Reporters have been "embedded" with troops in Iraq, but they are on military leashes and their stories subject to censorship; don't count on hearing much about Iraqi casualties. That's not so different from what reporters went through in Saddam Hussein's Iraq: minders, tightly controlled access and censorship.
The military insists that all this is necessary for "security." But Sharkey disagrees, noting, for example, that reporters knew the date and time of the World War II D-Day invasion and nobody spilled the beans.
I believe the journalists would like to give us the fullest story possible, but under constant government control, they can't. So Americans who want a more balanced picture of how the war is going might want to supplement their usual media diet with other, more independent sources. In this day of the Internet, that's not hard to do. I'd advise scanning "progressive" Web sites such as www.commondreams.org, balanced, English-language Israeli media such as The Jerusalem Post (www.jpost.com) and English newspapers, such as The Independent (www.independent.co.uk). Find out what the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera has been reporting.
I'm not saying alternative sources are 100 percent reliable, either. I disagree with much that I have read from those listed above. But with mainstream American media coverage "embedded" in government spin, those who want less filtered information should take advantage of the freedom George Bush touts and seek out news and views elsewhere. ..."

March 24 ~Chirac is sending humanitarian personnel to Qatar, to be ready to help when needed

"... Chirac is now working on preventing the US from taking all the spoils when the war is finished and on reestablishing the UN's authority on the situation. He is also sending humanitarian personnel to Qatar, to be ready to help when needed. France did the same thing in former Yougoslavia: the Americans paraded with their shiny weapons and tanks and the French buried thousands of dead (my cousin spent 6 months there burying people and vomiting, and digging, and burying, and vomiting again, and could not utter a single word for several months afterwards)." From an email received today

March 24 ~ Three coaches did not make it to Fairford on Saturday...

See report "....They confiscated people's hats and scarves, some cardboard shields, and tore off the hoods of the white paper weapons inspector suits that had been passed around the coaches earlier. They detained two people from the coaches, One for possession of a cardboard shield and the other for suspected incitement to criminal damage. Both of were released later that evening. When a few people, who'd been processed, tried to board a local bus to Fairford, they got pulled off by the police."

March 24 ~ "the doubters seem to ignore the most compelling evidence that Salam is who he says he is.."

- the detail of his day-to-day life. Those who know Baghdad well, and who have read the diary closely, say there is no doubt in their mind that whoever is writing it is currently resident in the Iraqi capital. The author may display evidence of spending time in the west (possibly Britain, though he does use Americanisms) with his cynical sense of humour and love of David Bowie lyrics, but the reams and reams of fascinating detail about domestic and street life in Baghdad are highly convincing." See today's Guardian (external link) and then see if you can log on to Salam's website without getting the 502 bad gateway message

March 24 ~ We live in fictitious times," he thundered, "when a fictitious president sends us to war for fictitious reasons

- shame on you Mr Bush. Shame on you." - Michael Moore, upon receiving the award for the best documentary at the Oscars, 23 March 2003. Guardian (external link)

March 24 ~"Not one single refugeee has arrived in Jordon; the traffic is all going the other way"

said Dominic Arkwright on the Today Programme. Far from capitulating or greeting troops with photographable scenes of joy, the Iraqis appear to be demonstrating increasing resistance. Ordinary Iraqi people in Jordan long to return to "die with their children" and "defend their homeland". We hear too that the British newspapers are full of outrage at the appearance on Iraqi television of pictures of dead Americans and the "parading" of the five captured servicemen and one woman. Words such as "barbarism" abound on the front pages. Amazement that Baghdad is defiant and news that there seem few cracks in the dictator's regime show that we are seeing dawning realisation among some that the "Coalition" has underestimated the task they have set themselves. It is all horribly reminiscent of Vietnam - an adventure that should have been a short sharp campaign but that dragged bloodily on and on. Memories are very short. So short that we have not yet heard anyone draw a comparison with the treatment by the invaded Iraqis of captured prisoners with what the Americans are doing in the US military base of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. See again The Bush Administration Through the Looking Glass

March 24 ~ There is a humanitarian emergency developing in Basra.

In the first days of this war one is reminded too of the words of the poet Wilfred Owen. Writing ninety years ago without rancour but just deep sadness, he knew from first hand the nature of war and was killed just before the end of the First World War - that war to end wars...:

March 24 ~ "ITN has called a halt to all independent reporting in southern Iraq"

"amid fears that the veteran ITV reporter Terry Lloyd may have been killed by "friendly fire" in an incident on the road to Basra yesterday. He said they had taken the decision to suspend reporting from anyone other than those who are "embedded" with the troops..." This report in the Guardian (external link) is likely to lead many - in addition to their concern and sympathy for the family and friends of Mr Lloyd - to wonder about that "friendly fire" and to ask questions about the definition of the word "embedded" in this context.

March 24 ~ Rumsfeld and Bush - a change in tone

Visibly shocked and angry at way things have not gone according to plan - the parading on Iraq television of captured soldiers from Fort Bliss in Texas yesterday and the strong resistance from the Iraqis - the US administration now seem to be preparing public opinion for a much longer war. The lack of the finding of any "weapons of mass destruction" is also causing great embarrassment.

March 23 ~ "Adviser quits Foreign Office over legality of war"

(Guardian) There seems to have been no mention of this on radio or television. ".... Ms Wilmhurst has been a legal adviser at the Foreign Office for 30 years, and deputy legal officer since 1997. Her resignation will be an embarrassment to Tony Blair as well as to Mr Straw and raises new doubts about the legal basis for the war. It will encourage anti-war MPs to renew pressure on the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, to publish in full his legal advice to the government. The Foreign Office was reluctant to discuss Ms Wilmhurst's departure. ..."

March 23 ~ The lesson for today's serial regime changers is a simple one.

The Guardian's story by Neil Clark of how you "can try to subjugate a people by sanctions, subversion and bombs. You can, if you wish, overthrow governments you dislike and seek to impose your will by installing a Hamid Karzai, General Tommy Franks or a Zoran Djindjic to act as imperial consul. But do not imagine that you can then force a humiliated people to pay homage to them. ..." Extract:Read the full article.

March 22 ~ Demonstration at Fairford

A beautiful Cotswold town in blazing Spring sunshine. Except for the fact that helicopters passed overhead and media people with cameras (perhaps hoping for some violence) were in evidence, it was almost impossible to tie up in one's mind the bleak reason for being there with the idyllic pastoral scenes past which we walked - cows grazing peacefully with their calves, ducks in the sparkling river. The route was lined with daffodils. A group from the Gower Women for Peace sang in harmony that kept all around them in contemplative and peaceful step. What a total contrast to the misery in Baghdad. Policemen and women (particularly the local ones) were friendly - perhaps aware of the absurdity of the overwhelming police presence when almost all participants were so evidently peace-loving and respectable.
Most of the several thousand walkers carried flowers.

March 22 ~ today I weep for my country.

said Senator Byrd of West Virginia on Thursday " I have watched the events of recent months with a heavy, heavy heart. No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. The image of America has changed. Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned.
Instead of reasoning with those with whom we disagree, we demand obedience or threaten recrimination. Instead of isolating Saddam Hussein, we seem to have isolated ourselves. We proclaim a new doctrine of preemption which is understood by few and feared by many. We say that the United States has the right to turn its firepower on any corner of the globe which might be suspect in the war on terrorism. We assert that right without the sanction of any international body. As a result, the world has become a much more dangerous place...." (Read the Senator's speech)

March 22 ~ "We are worried that the US believes and acts like it can replace the UN in delivery of humanitarian aid and reconstruction,"

said Justin Forsyth, head of policy at Oxfam. "We don't believe they have the skills or the legitimacy." The disagreements between Britain and the US extend even to who should be in charge of the immediate humanitarian work as the battle rages. Washington is boasting that its soldiers will double as mobile aid workers, bringing rations to the vulnerable population, 60% of whom depend on food handed out by the UN's oil for food programme. "We don't want our aid equipment to be offloaded off the back of a US military lorry, because if we were to do that we would be seen as part of a belligerent force," said Mr Forsyth. ..See Guardian report (external link)

March 22 ~ Your Excellency

I am writing to request that you support invoking General Assembly resolution 377A, Uniting for Peace, to end the war on Iraq.
We are in precisely the situation that this resolution was designed to address. The Security Council is deadlocked: there is a "lack of unanimity of the permanent members" of the Security Council. An illegal breach of the peace and an act of aggression have now occurred, which will claim the lives of untold thousands of innocent victims.
I ask you to live up to the mandate upon which the United Nations was founded. I ask you to join the voices calling for an emergency session of the General Assembly to be convened to condemn this act of aggression and recommend collective measures to "maintain and restore international peace and security" by halting this war.
The future of our world, and of the United Nations, hang in the balance. Please take action now.
You can send this letter or something similar from http://act.greenpeace.org/aas/e?a=ufp&s=amb_s (external link)

March 21 ~ The world has been cancelled. There is a war on.

Simon Jenkins in the Times today "I normally consume news by the hour, almost the minute. Yesterday I had to turn it off. For much of the day, there was no news, merely the fallout of a bungled assassination attempt on President Saddam Hussein. There was just hours of waiting for news. Yet nothing else had a look-in. Only the ultimate anaesthetic, football, was permitted to supplant bombs as fit subject for public interest. ....... Yesterday Britain suddenly had no worries over Europe's constitution, the NHS, London's transport, the Olympics or the Budget. Instead the nation waited breathless for tales of bombing and heroism..... ......the most notoriously wasteful department in Whitehall a golden key to the Exchequer. Drugs clinics, the elderly, Aids in Africa, the war on poverty could all eat their budgetary hearts out. War excused everything. Politics was in abeyance.
I have tried over the past month to argue my way through this wretched war. Debate is now overtaken by action. .......Despite Tony Blair's crude efforts to scare the public into becoming pro-war, there is no threat to British territory. We have sent professional soldiers to aid an American "disarmament" expedition in the Gulf. This should not require emergency powers. ..... " Read the article

March 21 ~ America mounts a relentless propaganda campaign to justify the invasion of Iraq.

From today's Independent (external link) ".....That message is that President Saddam, not Mr Bush, is responsible for the war; that it is a war to disarm a country which is "a grave danger to the world", as Mr Bush declared on Wednesday; that President Saddam is armed to the teeth with chemical and biological weapons (and soon, according to Vice-President Dick Cheney, nuclear weapons as well); and that the "liberation" of Iraq will shine as a beacon of hope throughout the Middle East.
The mantra is repeated daily by Ari Fleischer, Mr Bush's notably uncommunicative spokesman. But Washington has been caught bending the truth already, most notably over Saddam Hussein's links with al-Qa'ida, and the forged document purporting to show that Iraq had bought uranium from Niger. Similar doubts surround American claims yesterday that oil fields near Basra had been set on fire, an allegation disputed by eyewitnesses. Above all though, the return to the colours of Ms Hughes, a veteran of the Bush campaigns of 1994, 1998 and 2000, is evidence of how thoughts are already beginning to turn to 2004 - though no Bush aide would admit as much. President Bush's chances of a second term hinge on the war - not so much on its ultimate outcome, but on how quickly and with how few casualties, both Iraqi and American, that objective is achieved."

March 21 ~ US dirty tricks to win vote on Iraq war

Let us hope that the news (see Observer report from March 2nd) about the 28 year old unsung heroine of Cheltenham's GCHQ will not be allowed to fade away. Her action revealed that US govt. is spying on its UN 'allies' - and reminds us again of the story about phone tapping discovered in Brussels on March 19
".....The NSA main switchboard put The Observer through to extension 6727 at the agency which was answered by an assistant, who confirmed it was Koza's office. However, when The Observer asked to talk to Koza about the surveillance of diplomatic missions at the United Nations, it was then told 'You have reached the wrong number'. On protesting that the assistant had just said this was Koza's extension, the assistant repeated that it was an erroneous extension, and hung up. ..."Observer article.

March 21 ~ Southampton University's willingness to assist this form of protest.

At Southampton university counter-strikers are requesting the deduction one hour per week of their pay in protest against the war (as beginning of March) and in favour of Asylum Aid, 28 Commercial st, London E1 6LS, charity no.328729. Mark Levene writes, ".., it is denying money which would have gone into the exchequer's war chest and it is a positive action in favour of a cause doing something for the victims of war and violence as demonstrably linked to anti-war protest."

March 21 ~ The Bush Administration Through the Looking Glass

By Peter Fruendlich, National Public Radio.
"All right, let me see if I understand the logic of this correctly. We are going to ignore the United Nations in order to make clear to Saddam Hussein that the United Nations cannot be ignored. We're going to wage war to preserve the UN's ability to avert war. The paramount principle is that the UN's word must be taken seriously, and if we have to subvert its word to guarantee that it is, then by gun, we will. Peace is too important not to take up arms to defend it...." (more)

March 20/21 ~ the Vatican condemned the U.S. attack as a "defeat for reason."

Cardinal Roberto Tucci, speaking on Vatican Radio, said the war is "beyond all legality and all international legitimacy." He said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein bore what he said was an "enormous responsibility" for the war, but he also criticized the United States.
Pakistan's information minister, Sheikh Rashid, expressed regret over the start of the war. He said Pakistan sympathizes with the Iraqi people, and emphasized the United Nations did not approve the war.
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi described the U.S. attack as "a black mark on history." He said the world is now witnessing that "might (power) is right." "The world is now at a critical juncture following the action of the United States and its allies, which will go down as a black mark in history," he said. The United States, as "a large and powerful nation, along with its allies, has acted with disregard for international law, humanity and universal justice. It has launched an attack against a sovereign state that has diminished capacity to defend itself."
The president of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim state, Megawati Sukarnoputri, urged the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting and also called on the United States to halt the war.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark reiterated her government's opposition to the war...." See Radio Free Europe

March 20 ~ "Donald Rumsfeld tells us the scope and scale of what is to come is beyond anything that has ever been seen before. "

Channel Four. Whatever the strategy for the war against Iraq, it has started. Forty Tomahawk cruise missiles hit Baghdad in the night hours. Iraq fired three scud-like missiles in return penetrating the Kuwaiti desert. The war is not unfolding yet as advertised... Saddam was targetted, but appears to have survived. His speech is slurred, he appears nervous and tired. Un-confirmed reports of fires in the southern oil fields. Quiet currently in Baghdad...."

March 20 ~Big military assault on Afghanistan on the same day as the attacks on Iraq.... a "coincidence"

"The United States has launched one of its biggest military assaults on Afghanistan since Operation Anaconda a year ago but insisted it was a "coincidence" that the offensive began on the same day as the attacks on Iraq. Up to 1,000 troops and attack helicopters converged on villages in southern Afghanistan early this morning to flush out al-Qaida terrorists and their allies, a US army spokesman said. The operation, code-named "Valiant Strike", began with an air and ground assault in the remote mountains of southern Kandahar province, Colonel Roger King said. He said the military had launched the assault after receiving "a mosaic of different intelligence inputs" of activity in the area. Washington military officials said that radio transmissions had been detected from caves near the villages. However, Col King told Reuters that, as far as he was aware, the operation had been planned for two months.... " Guardian (external link)

March 20 ~ "None of the nuclear-related intelligence trumpeted by the administration has held up to scrutiny..

.., inspectors say. From suspect aluminum tubes to aerial photographs to documents -- revealed to be forgeries -- that claimed to link Iraq to uranium from Niger, inspectors say they chased U.S. leads that went nowhere and wasted valuable time in their efforts to determine the extent of Saddam Hussein's arsenal of weapons banned after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. ..... In the case of the Niger documents, they appeared genuine at first glance -- accurate nomenclature, proper stamps -- but further study turned up crude errors, such as words misspelled in French and dates that did not match the day of the week. Who created the counterfeit documents remains a mystery." See Mercury News on Znet (external link)
Germany's Der Spiegel accused the United States and the U.K. as the forgery perpetrators in a March 17 Web story titled, "Grounds for War Urgently Required: Forgeries and Half-Truths Intended To Heighten Fears of Saddam's Weapons Arsenal"

March 20 ~"... 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."
Some optimism, again from Znet (external link)

March 19 ~ Yours in despair

An emailer writes: "On Radio 4 PM programme I have just heard German, Russian and French condemnation of USA and UK - very strong.
Also Hans Blix saying that he wished the Inspectors had been given more time. Why in Heaven's name did they not say this yesterday before the Commons debate? Perhaps that's why Blair timed the Debate for yesterday and not today. These recent statements would have not helped him at all. Everything is stage managed, and so full of deception. I think some MPs may already be having second thoughts. Yours in despair"

March 19 ~"If nothing else, Mr Cook's resignation swept away the notion that the Prime Minister has further devastating evidence

that the rest of us don't about the threat posed by Iraq. If there really were further evidence of a "clear and present threat" from Iraq it would surely have been shared with Mr Cook." Western Morning News external link

March 19 ~ "Plans for the future of Iraq following the downfall of Saddam Hussein have been drawn up by a secret Whitehall unit

, it emerged yesterday. The existence of the Iraq Planning Unit, which includes representatives from the military as well as the Foreign Office and Department for International Development, was kept under wraps in order to avoid giving the impression that Britain believed war was inevitable, British sources said. Officials from the unit have been liaising closely with the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) set up by US President George Bush under director Jay Garner in January, and British officials have joined ORHA's forward base in Kuwait..." Western Morning News - external link

March 19 ~ How your MP voted

MPs last night were asked to vote on a motion which (1)"supports the decision of the Government that the UK should use all means necessary to ensure the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction". Secondly, to vote on a cross-party amendment which said that (2) "the case for war against Iraq has not yet been established, especially given the absence of specific UN authorisation" but also expressed "total support" for the British forces in the Gulf. From Hansard, here is how the MPs voted:

March 19 ~ The Pentagon has threatened to fire on the satellite uplink positions of independent journalists in Iraq,

according to veteran BBC war correspondent, Kate Adie. In an interview with Irish radio, Ms. Adie said that questioned about the consequences of such potentially fatal actions, a senior Pentagon officer had said: "Who cares.. ..They've been warned."
According to Ms. Adie, who twelve years ago covered the last Gulf War, the Pentagon attitude is: "entirely hostile to the the free spread of information."
"I am enormously pessimistic of the chance of decent on-the-spot reporting, as the war occurs," she told Irish national broadcaster, Tom McGurk on the RTE1 Radio "Sunday Show." (See report) Ms. Adie made the startling revelations during a discussion of media freedom issues in the likely upcoming war in Iraq. She also warned that the Pentagon is vetting journalists according to their stance on the war, and intends to take control of US journalists' satellite equipment --in order to control access to the airwaves. "

March 19 ~ Fostering Terror

The population is now being told to prepare for the worst....breathtaking.
'Stay indoors' terror advice http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2863003.stm
Simple preventative steps http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/terrorism/athome.htm

March 19 ~ Uranium Warfare: A Crime Against Humanity

Fintan Dunne GuluFuture.com " What if they announced the inevitable deaths from depleted uranium weapons at the actual time of war? Nightly News might go like this:
"Coalition forces today captured a key enemy stronghold. In a statement, Mr. Bush said that only 75,000 more deformed babies could secure the capital for the US. Ed Carnage reports from Washington..."
"...The Uranium Babies will be with us for a very long time. For countless millions of years to come, Iraq, Kosovo and indeed the uranium test firing ranges in the USA, will be lands of poison harvest. So will all war theaters of this slow, hidden nuclear holocaust. Uranium nuclear war is a crime against humanity."

March 19 ~ "Now Pandora's box creaks open once again and out will jump the miseries, distempers and demons of war...."

writes Simon Jenkins in the Times in another very readable article. "We should remember what the ingenious Greeks left at the bottom of that box, a mistress called Hope. She did not escape. She remained "to assuage the lot of man".
Hope now pleads for a quick victory. Hope pleads for no gratuitous bombing. Hope craves a swift rebuilding of Iraq. Hope prays for the Palestine "road map" to be sincere. Hope longs for the UN to pick itself up and play a full role in a reconstructed Middle East. Hope wants this war to purge once and for all America's September 11 trauma and rejoin the world community. Hope believes in America as a force for good in the world. Hope wants this war turned to good account.
Hope hates the sound of bin Laden laughing."

March 18/19 ~ The rebel amendment -

217 voted for the amendment (139 Labour) while 396 voted with the government. The House of Commons shows itself to be very much more pro-war than the rest of us. The Tory leadership too lost four good people. John Randall, Tory Whip last week, shadow environment minister Jonathan Sayeed, shadow home affairs minister Humfrey Malins and shadow health minister John Baron all left their posts on March 18th.

March 18 ~ "What is uncertain is the aftermath."

"This is the variable that is never factored into the thinking of our native political lumpen-bourgeoisie; their deeds plant the seeds of future and furious resistance.....This invasion will also ignite the fires of Arab and Muslim humiliation and anger throughout the region. Most importantly, in my view, there are the Kurds. Anyone who has followed the news has heard about "Saddam's" gassing of the Kurds. That's how it is portrayed. Nonetheless, few people have bothered to find out what the truth is, or even to investigate this claim..."
A fascinating and sobering article by retired U.S. Army Special Forces Master Sergeant Stan Goff , which re-examines what we can expect on the battlefield when the United States begins its invasion

March 18 ~ Blair and Bush must have been told the truth... it is likely that Iraq has been substantially disarmed for at least eight years

John Pilger (external link) last Friday. ".......In his dramatic presentation to the UN Security Council on February 5, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the truth about Iraq's nerve gas weapons "only came out after inspectors collected documentation as a result of the defection of Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein's late son in law". What Powell neglected to mention was that his star witness had told them all the weapons had been destroyed."

March 18 ~ "Don't the politicians realise that people's lives depend on what they say?" Iraqi man in a petrol queue

"Most shops are shut now, and Iraqis are as ready as they ever will be for war. The drivers we work with say everyone's always asking them, "When will it start?" because they think anyone who knows journalists must have inside information. Alas, we're just waiting too. I met a man in a petrol queue who said he'd been glued to Radio Monte Carlo and Al Jazeera TV (his brother has an illegal satellite dish). "Sounds like it'll happen Wednesday or Thursday," he said. "We know 95% that it's going to happen - we've just got 5% hope that it won't. Don't the politicians realise that people's lives depend on what they say?" He had sent his children to the village, so that if he had to flee he could move more quickly." From Channel Four's news update this afternoon

March 18 ~ George Monbiot ~ We may believe that George Bush and Tony Blair have the interests of foreigners at heart only when they spend more on feeding them than they spend on killing them

Today's article in the Guardian ".....There is surely no more obvious symptom of the corruption of western politics than the disproportion between the money available for sustaining life and the money available for terminating it. We could, I think, expect that, if they were asked to vote on the matter, most of the citizens of the rich world would demand that their governments spend as much on humanitarian aid as they spend on developing new means of killing people. But the military-industrial complex is a beast which becomes both fiercer and hungrier the more it is fed. ...the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, flew to Washington to beg George Bush for more money. He was given $50m, $35m of which the US insists is spent on the construction of a five-star hotel in Kabul. Karzai, in other words, has discovered what the people of Iraq will soon find out: generosity dries up when you are yesterday's news. "

March 18 ~ Home Office minister John Denham has resigned from government

Reuters

March 18 ~ Clare Short has decided to stay in the Cabinet

See Reuters report. Having already written to Ms Short to congratulate her on putting conscience before career, we now can only assume that the pressure put on her by those who have begged her to stay must have been very persuasive indeed. It would be presumptuous of us to comment further but we are again reminded of Simon Jenkins' article of March 5 Clare Short, ally of the 'post-heroic strategists'
Read her interview with Andrew Marr BBC external link.

March 18 ~ BP and Shell - (but it isn't about oil)

See article from wsws.org ".... The Financial Times reported last week that the two companies had held talks with Downing Street and Whitehall officials "about the commercial benefits from developing the country's huge oilfields once Saddam Hussein is toppled". Shell is reported to have raised the issue during a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair's senior policy adviser, whilst BP has been pressing Whitehall to ensure that the UK do not lose out on potential contracts to the United States. The newspaper's claims brought an angry rebuttal from the two companies, denying they had actively sought talks with the government on the issue. But their denials only confirmed that talks on oil exploration in Iraq post-Saddam Hussein had indeed taken place...."
Friends of the Earth (external link) say: "Baghdad Bazaar Big Oil in Iraq was published last October but only came to light last week. It indicates that a regime change in Iraq would benefit US and UK oil companies while a peaceful resolution would benefit oil companies based in Russia, France and China:.." See Baghdad Bazaar Big Oil (external pdf link) Extract:

March 18 ~ Lord Hunt said he had agonised over the Iraq policy for weeks and had now decided to resign.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I don't support the pre-emptive action which is going to be taken without broad international support or indeed the clear support of the British people."

March 18 ~ "He dismissed Mr Blair's claim that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to British people, insisting the Iraqi dictator had no weapons of mass destruction capable of being deployed against his enemies."

Channel Four News "MPs have given former Cabinet minister Robin Cook a standing ovation after he told the House of Commons he would vote against the Government's plans to go to war in Iraq. ... He dismissed Mr Blair's claim that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to British people, insisting the Iraqi dictator had no weapons of mass destruction capable of being deployed against his enemies. And he said that the regime of weapons inspections and sanctions imposed on Iraq since the Gulf War had contained Saddam more effectively than military action had in 1991. Mr Cook said the Prime Minister was wrong to argue that France alone was to blame for the failure to achieve consensus in the United Nations Security Council. War was opposed by many countries around the globe - and by the British public he said, adding: "I cannot support a war without international agreement or domestic support." He also claimed that that history would be "astonished at the diplomatic miscalculation" that saw the international coalition fall apart. Mr Cook warned that Britain was in danger of isolating itself internationally by going to war without the support of any of the international institutions of which it is a member - Nato, the European Union and the Security Council. ..... Mr Cook said that after working so hard to try to achieve a second resolution we could not now "pretend that getting a second resolution was of no importance." Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said parliament would hold a vote on military action in Iraq after a debate in the House of Commons tomorrow."
The Prime Minister (and the Prime Minister's wife) has been seeing Labour MPs in batches to try to reduce the number of rebels in tomorrow's vote.

March 18 ~ Astounded by the BBC news that said "40% of the population is still against war"....

... we looked at the Local London Ballot. This allows only one vote per computer address.

March 18 ~ "The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has warned the United States that the legitimacy of military action will be questioned.."

(See report from The Hindu - external link) and the "..support for it diminished" in the absence of any authorisation of the Security Council on the use of force. Mr. Annan told the media after a meeting of the Security Council. Mr. Annan maintained that should military conflict break out, the Council and the U.N. as a whole would have a role to play. ..."

March 17 ~ Both the UK and US governments have booked airtime for 8am EST on Wednesday.

Our informant asks himself : " I wonder what they will have to talk about." Other information suggests that hostilities will begin in the early hours of Wednesday.

March 17 ~ "Good afternoon, Jon Snow here with a briefing on a turbulent news day..."

For those who have not signed up for the Channel 4 news update: UN route fails:
Diplomacy has died, officially buried at 3.00pm our time (10.00am Eastern) by UK UN Ambo, Sir Jeremy Greenstock. The French are being blamed, but of course the coalition of the unwilling is far wider than that. Don't mention the Russians who first used the dreaded V word (VETO) Don't mention the 36 times the US has deployed the veto to prevent resolutions passing on the Israeli-Arab issue. No need to mention much beyond the reality that this is war: Tonight, tomorrow night, sometime extremely soon. And if previous patterns are to be deployed, all this talk of 3,200 smart weapons in the first 48-hours may be a deception. Expect, perhaps, a land invasion to cut-off Baghdad from the rest of the country...."

March 17 ~ "Of the 535 members of Congress, only ONE (Sen. Johnson of South Dakota) has an enlisted son or daughter in the armed forces.."

"..If you really want to stand up for America, please send your twin daughters over to Kuwait right now and let them don their chemical warfare suits. And let's see every member of Congress with a child of military age also sacrifice their kids for this war effort. What's that you say? You don't THINK so? Well, hey, guess what -- we don't think so either! " Read today's letter to President Bush from the wonderful Michael Moore "There is virtually NO ONE in America (talk radio nutters and Fox News aside) who is gung-ho to go to war. Trust me on this one. Walk out of the White House and on to any street in America and try to find five people who are PASSIONATE about wanting to kill Iraqis. YOU WON'T FIND THEM! Why? 'Cause NO Iraqis have ever come here and killed any of us! No Iraqi has even threatened to do that. You see, this is how we average Americans think: If a certain so-and-so is not perceived as a threat to our lives, then, believe it or not, we don't want to kill him! Funny how that works!...." More

March 18 ~ "He dismissed Mr Blair's claim that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to British people, insisting the Iraqi dictator had no weapons of mass destruction capable of being deployed against his enemies."

Channel Four News "MPs have given former Cabinet minister Robin Cook a standing ovation after he told the House of Commons he would vote against the Government's plans to go to war in Iraq. ... He dismissed Mr Blair's claim that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to British people, insisting the Iraqi dictator had no weapons of mass destruction capable of being deployed against his enemies. And he said that the regime of weapons inspections and sanctions imposed on Iraq since the Gulf War had contained Saddam more effectively than military action had in 1991. Mr Cook said the Prime Minister was wrong to argue that France alone was to blame for the failure to achieve consensus in the United Nations Security Council. War was opposed by many countries around the globe - and by the British public he said, adding: "I cannot support a war without international agreement or domestic support." He also claimed that that history would be "astonished at the diplomatic miscalculation" that saw the international coalition fall apart. Mr Cook warned that Britain was in danger of isolating itself internationally by going to war without the support of any of the international institutions of which it is a member - Nato, the European Union and the Security Council. ..... Mr Cook said that after working so hard to try to achieve a second resolution we could not now "pretend that getting a second resolution was of no importance." Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said parliament would hold a vote on military action in Iraq after a debate in the House of Commons tomorrow."
The Prime Minister (and the Prime Minister's wife) has been seeing Labour MPs in batches to try to reduce the number of rebels in tomorrow's vote.

March 17 ~ Robin Cook has resigned

The scenes in the House of Commons were very unusual - not least because of the applause that greeted the end of his moving resignation speech and the fact that many were seen to rise to their feet to acknowledge him. His speech was described by Andrew Marr as the best he had given.

March 17 ~ Does the British army share the conviction of two thirds of Americans - i.e. that Saddam Hussein blew up the twin towers on September 11 2001?

"Now it appears that there are two sides squaring up and people at home seem to think we are just slavishly following the Americans. The events of 9/11 obviously didn't have the same effect on British people as they did the Americans. "But you can bet that if anything like that had happened in the UK, people at home would be baying for us to get in there and flatten Saddam."
This was the comment from a British soldier, reported in the Western Morning News under the headline: FRONT-LINE FRUSTRATION OVER LACK OF SUPPORT . (external link)

March 17 ~ An early draft of Resolution 1441 included the phrase "all necessary means" but after pressure from France and Russia that was watered down only to "serious consequences".

(Channel 4 News - external link) At the time, America's ambassador to the UN John Negroponte made it clear that 1441 wasn't enough to send the boys in. Now, however, government lawyers point to Resolution number 678 which does use the magic phrase "all necessary means" in relation to Iraq. That, however, was passed in 1990 before the last Gulf War and before the UN ceasefire arrangements. There's another problem too. Resolution 1441 ends by saying that the UN security council "decides to remain seized of the matter". "Seized" has a very specific legal meaning of possession or ownership. In plain language the council was saying that nothing could happen until it met again. And there is a formal process to go through before military action can be taken in the name of the UN. .."

March 17 ~ We are told ..by someone who would seem to know.. that war will begin at 2.30am on Wednesday morning.

And an emailer writes: "I remember as a child my mum, who was a child herself during the war, had an autograph book she had kept. Her friends had all signed it. One had written the well known quote- "Man's inhumanity to Man makes many countless mourn". It had a profound affect on me at that young age. 40 years later nothing has changed. Tonight 12 of us in Almeley Church joined countless thousands around the world praying that it would." She sends this article When Democracy Failed: The Warnings of History :"....instead of referring to the nation by its name, he began to refer to it as "The Homeland," a phrase publicly promoted in the introduction to a 1934 speech recorded in Leni Riefenstahl's famous propaganda movie "Triumph Of The Will." As hoped, people's hearts swelled with pride, and the beginning of an us-versus-them mentality was sewn. Our land was "the" homeland, citizens thought: all others were simply foreign lands. We are the "true people," he suggested, the only ones worthy of our nation's concern; if bombs fall on others, or human rights are violated in other nations and it makes our lives better, it's of little concern to us. Playing on this new nationalism, and exploiting a disagreement with the French over his increasing militarism, he argued that any international body that didn't act first and foremost in the best interest of his own nation was neither relevant nor useful. He thus withdrew his country from the League Of Nations in October, 1933, and then negotiated a separate naval armaments agreement with Anthony Eden of The United Kingdom to create a worldwide military ruling elite. ..." The parallels are terrifying.

March 17 ~" I'll hazard a guess right now, we shall see many of the British and American journalists back to their old trick of playing toy soldiers, dressing themselves up in military costumes for their nightly theatrical performances on television."

Robert Fisk in yesterday's Independent on The War of Misinformation has Begun "Here's a few guesses about our coverage of the war to come. American and British forces use thousands of depleted uranium (DU) shells - widely regarded by 1991 veterans as the cause of Gulf War syndrome as well as thousands of child cancers in present day Iraq - to batter their way across the Kuwaiti-Iraqi frontier. Within hours, they will enter the city of Basra, to be greeted by its Shia Muslim inhabitants as liberators. US and British troops will be given roses and pelted with rice - a traditional Arab greeting - as they drive "victoriously" through the streets. The first news pictures of the war will warm the hearts of Messrs Bush and Blair. There will be virtually no mention by reporters of the use of DU munitions.
But in Baghdad, reporters will be covering the bombing raids that are killing civilians by the score and then by the hundred. These journalists, as usual, will be accused of giving "comfort to the enemy while British troops are fighting for their lives". By now, in Basra and other "liberated" cities south of the capital, Iraqis are taking their fearful revenge on Saddam Hussein's Baath party officials. Men are hanged from lamp-posts. Much television footage of these scenes will have to be cut to sanitize the extent of the violence.
Far better for the US and British governments will be the macabre discovery of torture chambers and "rape-rooms" and prisoners with personal accounts of the most terrible suffering at the hands of Saddam's secret police. This will "prove" how right "we" are to liberate these poor people. Then the US will have to find the "weapons of mass destruction" that supposedly provoked this bloody war. In the journalistic hunt for these weapons, any old rocket will do for the moment...."

March 17 ~ Tony Blair is trying to convince us that the existing resolution, 1441, always offered sufficient scope for war.From today's

Letters in the Telegraph

Where's the opposition?

Date: 17 March 2003
Sir - It now seems that a second UN resolution will not be tabled, as it will not be passed. Consequently, Tony Blair is trying to convince us that the existing resolution, 1441, always offered sufficient scope for war. Such a massive policy U-turn by the Government hands the Opposition fantastic ammunition, yet Iain Duncan Smith has offered Mr Blair his support. Only the Liberal Democrats question the international legality of military aggression without UN support. The saddest fact is not that Britain is effectively sidelining the UN, but that we have no effective opposition. Any opposition will be soon deemed "unpatriotic" and be stifled, because our troops will be in battle.
Now is the time for opposition to be vociferous, before the fighting starts.
From:
Garry Honey, Esher, Surrey
Sir - Following the revelation (report, Mar 13) that Iraq has developed an unmanned drone aircraft that can fly for 90 miles, I can reveal that plans for this machine were given away free to readers of Aeromodeller magazine in the April issue of 1988. No doubt our security services will be able to search that magazine's archives to determine if Saddam was a subscriber.
From:
Alex Pincus, Buxted, E. Sussex

March 17 ~ "London would not push a vote if it did not think it would get the necessary nine out of 15 Security Council votes..."

Reuters (external link) "..Despite massive domestic opposition to British involvement in a war against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein without U.N. support, Blair tried to put a brave face on events. Asked if he was confident he and his ruling Labour Party would survive the Iraq crisis, he replied: "Yes, actually." He declined to tell reporters when he would call a cabinet or a parliamentary debate on the issue. Both are expected this week, although some analysts are saying bombs may be falling before legislators have a chance to debate again the legitimacy of military action in Iraq.....(he) was expected to work the phone from his plane and then during the night in a last-ditch effort to bring other nations on board the U.S.-British position on Iraq."

March 17 ~ Because of the level of opposition to war in Britain, the failure to achieve a second United Nations resolution will have serious consequences for Tony Blair.

Independent (external link) "Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, is reported by friends to be very depressed by the prospect of war without proper UN authority. Insiders now regard Mr Cook's resignation from the Cabinet as even more likely than the departure of the International Development Secretary, Clare Short. Other members of the Government such as the Environment minister, Michael Meacher, the Agriculture minister Lord Whitty, and parliamentary aides Ken Purchase and Tony Wright, would not say whether they expect to be in office at the end of the week. Tony Blair has promised MPs another vote on the war in the coming week. He is likely to face a rebellion from Labour MPs even bigger than the 121 who voted against the Government last time. Many Labour MPs who backed the Government then made it clear they were doing so on condition that the UN Security Council passed a second resolution authorising war, as Mr Blair confidently predicted they would."

March 16 ~ Letters Guardian March 15 "Counsels against war"

We must not let ourselves be decieved by Downing Street's false argument that UN resolution 1441 justifies an Anglo-American attack on Iraq without the need for a further resolution (War Analysis, March 14).
Last October, Washington originally put forward a resolution specifying that failure by Saddam Hussein to fulfil UN demands for his disarmament should be dealt with "by all possible means" - code for automatic use of armed force. This was totally rejected by France, Russian and China. In November, after six weeks of haggling, the present resolution 1441 was passed , stating that a material breach by Iraq would entail "serious consequences" - not code for automatic war. Moreover, France, Russia and China, in accepting resolution 1441, formally stated that they did so only on the clear understanding that it did not carry with it any automatic recourse to war without a further security council decision.
Therefore, Bush and Blair's war will be contrary to resolution 1441. It will also breach the UN Charter itself, which reserves decisions over peace and war to the security council except in cases of self-defence against attack. But neither America nor britain has been attacked, or even threatened with attack, by Iraq.
Of course, the cold-eyed warmongers of Bush's Washington don't give a damn about any of this. But we might have hoped that Tony Blair would have felt some scruples about embarking on a war which will be illegal, as well as opposed by a majority of the British nation.
Correlli Barnett
East Carleton, Norwich

March 16 ~ "...apart from new types of cluster bombs and cruise missiles, the Americans will use their untested pulse bomb, known also as a microwave bomb..."

writes John Pilger in his article.."Vladimir Slipchenko, one of the world's leading military analysts, says the testing of new weapons is a "main purpose" of the attack on Iraq. .... Each discharges two megawatts of radiation which instantly puts out of action all communications, computers, radios, even hearing aids and heart pacemakers. "Imagine, your heart explodes!" he said.
In the future, this Pax Americana will be policed with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons used "pre-emptively", even in conflicts that do not directly engage US interests. In August, the Bush administration will convene a secret meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, to discuss the construction of a new generation of nuclear weapons, including "mini nukes", "bunker busters" and neutron bombs. Generals, government officials and nuclear scientists will also discuss the appropriate propaganda to convince the American public that the new weapons are necessary.....It is vitally important that we understand their goals and the degree of their ruthlessness...... With an attack on Iraq almost a certainty, the millions who filled London and other capitals on the weekend of 15-16 February, and the millions who cheered them on, now have these transcendent duties..... There is only one form of opposition now: it is civil disobedience leading to what the police call civil unrest. The latter is feared by undemocratic governments of all stripes. ..... My own view" (writes John Pilger) "is that if the protest movement sees itself as a world power, as an expression of true internationalism, then success need not be a dream. That depends on how far people are prepared to go.

March 16 ~ elements within the British security services were unhappy with the Government's use of intelligence information.

See last Sunday's Observer (external link): "An employee at the top-secret Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been arrested following revelations in The Observer last weekend about an American 'dirty tricks' surveillance operation to win votes at the United Nations in favour of a tough new resolution on Iraq. ...Officials at GCHQ, the electronic surveillance arm of the British intelligence service, were asked by the Americans to provide valuable information from 'product lines', intelligence jargon for phone taps and e-mail interception. The document was circulated among British intelligence services before being leaked. A GCHQ spokesman confirmed last night that the woman was an employee. "
See also: UN launches inquiry into American spying (external link) "... Sources in the office of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan confirmed last night that the spying operation had already been discussed at the UN's counter-terrorism committee and will be further investigated. The news comes as British police confirmed the arrest of a 28-year-old woman working at the top secret Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) on suspicion of contravening the Official Secrets Act. Last week The Observer published details of a memo sent by Frank Koza, Defence Chief of Staff (Regional Targets) at the US National Security Agency, which monitors international communications. The memo ordered an intelligence 'surge' directed against Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea with 'extra focus on Pakistan UN matters'. The 'dirty tricks' operation was designed to win votes in favour of intervention in Iraq."

March 16 ~ "Through the internet, the nonviolent movement is linked by billions of e-mails and forwarded articles meant to surround and circumvent the corporate media."

says Harvey Wasserman, senior editor of Free Press and author of The Last Energy War (Seven Stories Press). "Amidst the agonizing crisis over Iraq, the violent contortions of the world's only military superpower have given birth to a transcendental force: the global Superpower of Peace. .....They warn
  • the blood shed in this proposed war would be unconscionable.
  • That its ecological costs would be unsustainable.
  • That civil rights and liberties are being trashed.
  • And that the multiplier effects of such devastating chaos cannot be predicted.
    A war between unelected macho madmen, launched by a military superpower against its own puppet gone astray, is the ultimate yin to the new movement's yang. If, as you read this, war has broken out, know this: the global Superpower of Peace can bend, but it won't break. If Bush still hasn't attacked, and Saddam continues to be disarmed, count another day the Superpower of Peace has extended its pre-emptive influence, its maturity, its scope. 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. " See articles from this weekend's Counterpunch

    March 16 ~ "Supporters of war with Iraq attribute international hostility to either pacifism or visceral anti-Americanism..."

    writes Max Hastings in the Sunday Telegraph today (How to lose friends and offend people.) " It seems more just, however, to blame the stunning diplomatic failure by the Bush Administration. For once, there is a valid historical comparison. Never since Suez has a great nation blundered so disastrously in attempting to justify the use of force before the world. A British diplomat observed to me that following American representatives around the world requires an enormous dustpan and brush to clear up the mess.
    The last straw was Mr Bush's belated promise on Friday to unveil a new Middle-East peace plan. For months, the British Government has been beseeching Washington to make some gesture about Israel and the Palestinians. Bush's failure to offer even token linkage between war on Iraq and firmness towards Israel has represented a gaping hole in the American case. Yet who can take seriously a bone now thrown so carelessly to a sceptical world, on the eve of war?..."

    March 16 ~ And today's Sunday Scare story is...

    in the Sunday Times. Police go on high alert for suicide attack (external link) Masterly use of language here to frighten the population with imaginary "potential" bugbears:
      "...... to counter the threat of ...possible suicide bombings...The authorities fear ...could trigger ...there are now concerns ...could heed ... ...Tom Ridge, America's homeland security secretary is seeking clearance to raise the colour-coded threat- alert level to orange, reflecting the "high risk" of a terrorist attack if America invades Iraq. ...All police forces across Britain have received guidance from the Association of Chief Police Officers on how to handle a potential suicide bomber. ...Civil defence planners are also gearing up to deal with a possible chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear strike. ...a simulation of a chemical attack on the London Underground. ...The exercise at Bank Tube station in the City of London is expected to see police go through the motions of sealing off a contaminated "hot zone" while council and health officials set up mobile decontamination units. Scores of volunteers are likely to play the role of dead or injured passengers. ...190 decontamination units will also be deployed across the UK within weeks to help cope with a such an attack. ...Ministers revealed this weekend that the system, which is able to transmit a warning message nationwide within 60 seconds of an instruction, would be operational by the beginning of April."
    One emailer writes in disgust:"Now why might they want to make us feel insecure? Oh yes something about wanting to go to war this week .... Absolutely pi**ed off with conniving politicians.."

    March 15 ~ With a new UN resolution now unlikely, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw admitted war was now "much more probable" than before - a point reinforced by cabinet colleagues.

    From Calling time on Diplomacy by Julian Rush, Channel 4 news (external link) "....A decision hammered out at Number 10 - where senior ministers met Tony Blair ahead of his summit meeting with George Bush and the Spanish Prime Minister tomorrow. But behind the scenes, anti war MPs say they're coming under intense pressure to back the government line. That'll increase if - as expected - there's a Commons debate on Iraq next week. ..."

    March 15 ~ ".... the idea is to recreate using conventional weapons the "shock and awe" produced by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

    From Channel 4's Baghdad Diary (external link)
    "People we meet often ask us what we think will happen. "Will there be war? When? Should I send my family to the village?"
    Some wonder if America will use a nuclear weapon.
    Such fears are not far beneath the surface of normality and denial. There are more than 200 journalists in Baghdad now, and most of us hope the Iraqi government will let us stay here. Our families (and editors!) worry, but most of us want to witness what happens. I feel it's important to be here and chronicle what happens to the Iraqi people in the first American colonial war of the 21st century. And I want to find out what happens to the people I've met - the giggling girls at the university who think it's not going to happen, the shopkeeper, even the staff at the Ministry of Information.
    The story is much bigger than Iraq. It's about American power, and splits between Europe and America which I believe have already changed forever the diplomatic order established after World War ll. By accident of history, or fate, Iraq is where this story will play out. I think we need to be here."

    March 14 ~ War on Iraq would be seen as an attack on Islam, says former Cabinet minister

    Former Culture Secretary Chris Smith, has warned the Prime Minister that war on Iraq by the US and UK "would be seen as an attack not on Saddam Hussein but on Islam", reports The Muslim News (external link)

    March 14 ~ Germany says peace is the answer

    BERLIN (Reuters) - "Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says Germany, France, Russia, China and the majority of the U.N. Security Council still believe Iraq could be disarmed peacefully and said weapons inspections should go on. ....... Schroeder, whose vocal anti-war stance has infuriated the United States, said recent reports by U.N. weapons inspectors showed that the Baghdad government was cooperating more actively in disarmament. He also noted Iraq`s destruction of al-Samoud missiles. "With an extended inspection regime, we can achieve a lasting and verifiable disarmament and that is why it was and remains right that we have insisted on the logic of peace rather than entering into a logic of war," he said. ...."

    March 14 ~"The customary defence of the Dresden raid is that Britain cannot be to blame because German civilians deserved it. They deserved it for allowing Hitler to be their leader.

    The identical argument is now being deployed to defend the forthcoming rain of terror on Baghdad. .." Simon Jenkins today "A war for civilisation conducted by philistines" in the Times: "..None of those who demand war to protect civilisation will lift a finger to safeguard it in Iraq. Most are now so embarrassed as just to want the war "over quickly", and to hell with the damage. ...To some this is all sob stuff. War is always about killing and destruction, they say, so stop being fastidious. I am sure that is what the Condor Legion said before bombing Guernica and Harris said before Dresden. They did not see things that way later.....This is not a conflict that Britain is in danger of losing. The case for treating civilian areas and historic sites with extreme care seems overwhelming. At very least, if Britain is not a pawn in Washington's pocket, it should apply a "civilisation test" to the target lists. The planned aerial onslaught on Iraq seems out of all proportion to any threat, or to the necessities of war. " Read this article

    March 14 ~"And now we are told by George Bush Junior that the Security Council will become irrelevant if France, Germany and Russia use their veto?

    I often wonder how much further the sanctimoniousness of the Bush administration can go. Much further, I fear." Robert Fisk today in the Independent
    "...So here's a little idea that might just make the American administration even angrier and even more aware of its obligations to the rest of the world. It's a forgotten UN General Assembly resolution that could stop an invasion of Iraq, a relic of the Cold War. It was, ironically, pushed through by the US to prevent a Soviet veto at the time of the Korean conflict, and actually used at the time of Suez. For UN resolution 377 allows the General Assembly to recommend collective action "if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security". This arcane but intriguing piece of UN legislation - passed in 1950 and originally known as the "Uniting for Peace" resolution - might just be used to prevent Messrs Bush and Blair going to war if their plans are vetoed in the Security Council by France or Russia. Fundamentally, it makes clear that the UN General Assembly can step in - as it has 10 times in the past - if the Security Council is not unanimous....The White House – and readers of The Independent, and perhaps a few UN officials – can look up the 377 resolution on http://www.un.org/Depts/dhl/landmark/pdf/ares377e.pdf. If Mr Bush takes a look, he probably wouldn't know whether to laugh or cry. But today the General Assembly – dead dog as we have all come to regard it – might just be the place for the world to cry: Stop. Enough. "

    March 13 ~ Paxman and Zbigniew Brzezinski on last night's Newsnight

    How interesting it was to watch Mr Paxman's eyebrows shoot upwards at the former US Defence advisor's measured words dismissing the six key tests for Iraqi disarmament. He called them "frivolous" and singled out the first* as being merely an attempt to humiliate Saddam and the Iraqis while there was no evidence to support the ** fifth
    *1 A public statement in Arabic by Saddam Hussein, to be broadcast on television and radio in Iraq, admitting to the possession and concealment of weapons of mass destruction and declaring his regime's intention to give them up without delay.
    **5 A commitment that the so-called 'mobile laboratories' will be surrendered for destruction.

    March 13 ~ "..catastrophic for everything that Labour was elected to do"

    Guardian(external link) "... Either the attorney has advised that to wage war in defiance of a vetoed UN resolution is acceptable under international law, or he has advised that it is not. The difference is very important, and the public has a right to know what has been advised. To say nothing is merely to sow suspicion. In the Commons yesterday, Mr Blair said that Britain was determined to act "on a proper legal basis". That has all the sound of a weasel formulation.
    ..... Of all the realities that Mr Blair must face, however, this remains the greatest: British participation in an Iraq war lacking rock-hard legal authority, lacking proper UN backing and lacking the authority of parliament could be catastrophic for everything that Labour was elected to do.

    March 13 ~ Below is link to the BBC website where votes can be cast on "Who do you agree with on Iraq? UK and US or France and Russia?"

    68460 votes cast when first looked at. The division was:
  • 41.67% for UK and US,
  • 58.33% for France and Russia
    Later, at 5.13 p.m. we noticed that this had changed...Who do you agree with on Iraq?
  • 50.67% for US and UK
  • 49.33% for France and Russia with 3363 Votes Cast
    It is puzzling that 68460 could have become 3363 in a matter of a couple of hours. This would also appear to be one of those "polls" where you may vote as many times as you like.

    It saddens us that so much about the conflict is reduced in the media to the level of the European Song Contest. You might prefer to contact the French Foreign Ministry directly with your opinion of the French stand.

    March 13 ~ France dismisses British proposals on Iraq

    PARIS (Reuters) - France says that new ideas proposed by Britain on disarming Iraq do not address the key issue of seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis and that Paris rejects the "logic of ultimatums". A statement issued in the name of Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin on Britain's proposals said: "It's not a question of giving Iraq a few more days before committing to the use of force. It's about making resolute progress towards peaceful disarmament, as mapped out by (U.N. weapons) inspections that offer a credible alternative to war".
    As a second resolution becomes more unlikely we find Iain Duncan Smith has said war was now "more likely" and that Tony Blair had told him "the French have become completely intransigent" with their veto threat.
    "Intransigent" apparently = having the affrontery to say,"It's not a question of giving Iraq a few more days before committing to the use of force. It's about making resolute progress towards peaceful disarmament, as mapped out by (U.N. weapons) inspections that offer a credible alternative to war."

    March 13 ~ Today's war headlines

    (all external links):
      Times - No Turning back for Britain or Blair "War looms as Prime Minister prepares to bypass United Nations - TONY BLAIR prepared his party and country for war without further approval from the United Nations yesterday. He served notice that he would defy scores of Labour MPs and millions of voters as he dismissed the idea that America could go it alone..."
      Telegraph - UN considers Blair's Iraq benchmarks "Britain's list of "benchmarks" to judge Saddam Hussein's compliance with demands to disarm are being considered by the UN again after failing to unite a divided Security Council. The United States says it supports Britain's six-point test but did not countersign the proposal at a three-hour meeting of the council at UN headquarters in New York last night. But US ambassador John Negroponte said that if the council rallies around the British plan, America may be prepared to accept "a very, very, very brief extension" of the March 17 deadline for Iraq to complete the disarmament tests. ..... White House officials said a Security Council vote, if one was held at all, will be on the resolution introduced last week by Britain, the US and Spain. The vote could come as early as tomorrow, officials were reported to have said. Back in Britain, Mr Blair is due to meet Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith at Downing Street."
      Guardian - PM stakes all on US alliance UK forces will join war regardless of UN backing -Tony Blair yesterday took the political gamble of his life when he signalled that British forces will join an imminent US-led military invasion to disarm Saddam Hussein, even if a majority of the security council fails to endorse such action in a second UN resolution. The prime minister moved to end the sense of deep crisis that engulfed Downing Street over the previous 48 hours, quelling doubts about his resolve to fight alongside the US. He stressed that there was sufficient justification ....
      Independent - Defiant Blair still on course for war PM sets six tests for Saddam; Doubts over new UN vote; Shares slump to seven-year low -Bloodied but unbowed, a defiant Tony Blair vowed yesterday to "hold firm" to his strategy in Iraq and made clear that British troops would fight alongside the United States even if he failed to win a new United Nations mandate...."

    March 13 ~ "I think America has become drunk with power"

    said Nelson Mandela quietly towards the end of the two-part documentary on his life shown on BBC 1 last night. Coming from the world leader whose Truth and Reconciliation meetings drew weeping confessions and mutual forgiveness from both sides in South Africa's sad past, who inspires love and loyalty in the most unlikely people (he has his friend, former President Clinton, enthusiastically raising millions for African charitable causes) and who, as promised, resigned from high office when at the height of his popularity and power, this was a statement chilling in its conviction.

    March 13 ~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Reverend Robert Edgar, and other religious leaders call for candlelight vigils around the world on march 16th

    See http://www.moveon.org/vigil/ "...say yes to peace -- and no to war with Iraq. So far, 1252 vigils have been scheduled in 58 countries..."

    March 13 ~"... Because the Bush administration is fueled by oil dollars, and if the oil-producing nations switch from dollars to Euros, it's going to be left high and dry

    Which all makes a crazy kind of sense, as these theories go. After all, as I said earlier..the Bush family is in the oil business, but it's also in the war business. So a war on Iraq is a win-win proposition. It intimidates all those oil producing dumps so they know better than to fool around with the Euro--any one of them could be next--and at the same time, it fills the war coffers of the people who really matter.."
    We seem to be hearing more and more of this "euro" theory. As the writer says there are plenty of "plausible enough explanations for what appears at first glance to be an insane crusade to precipitate World War Three, crush all resistance to American global hegemony, and found a Christian empire that feeds on the desperation and poverty of resource-rich wog subject states... Yet we are left feeling vaguely unsatisfied..the Euro is the currency of the future. The dollar has had its day... ." http://www.counterpunch.org/tripp03082003.html

    March 12 ~ "What better example than yesterday's announcement that every single contract to reconstruct Iraq will go to US companies?"

    Polly Toynbee in today's Guardian (external link) " It shocks Europe and the world to the core that Iraqi oil will pay US companies to repair the damage done by US bombs. With Halliburton's snout deep in the trough, vice-president Cheney holding millions of its shares in his blind trust, Britain was not even considered. Downing Street was left yesterday explaining lamely that when the bidding notices went out a month ago, only US companies had US defence department security clearances to qualify. Yet again, Blair is left alone to explain to the rest of the world the gross deformities of the Bush brand of capitalism. ...."

    March 12 ~ Bush gives 712 reasons to bomb Iraq

    a cartoon that has been winging its way around the Inboxes...

    March 12 ~ Cometh the hour, cometh the... no, not you, Gordon

    Simon Jenkins today "There is no spectacle in politics so terrible as a Chancellor of the Exchequer pledging loyalty to a prime minister. Grown men weep. Women and children run for cover. Churches fill with prayers. Shops run out of milk powder. Yet on Monday at Church House in Westminster, Gordon Brown did just that. "The whole nation should support Tony Blair," he cried. A mirror shattered in an Islington restaurant. .....A Labour prime minister is sending almost the entire British Army east of Suez on a venture that most of those round him regard as both folly and illegal. .....While Mr Bush is quietly determined, Mr Blair is messianic, almost above the fray. He consumes that dangerous morning brew of threat assessments, to the point where he seems convinced that Britain is under some immediate and demonic threat he cannot reveal. Each week a new Horseman of the Apocalypse arrives at the Pas de Calais or Waterloo Station. Britain must build bunkers, order gas-proof Jaguars, put machineguns in Parliament and ring Heathrow with tanks. Go into any Whitehall building these days and you sense a government in the grip of institutional panic. ....Labour cannot rely on the Tories forever offering no fight. The party may have need of the old magician. I would be amazed if the membership ever replaced him with that gloomy control freak, the killjoy of Number 11.
    Besides, does the party really want a man so ambitious that, now of all times, he can threaten his leader with unstinting praise? "

    March 11 ~ The American government is on the verge of awarding construction contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild Iraq once Saddam Hussein is deposed.

    Words fail us....
    See Guardian report (external link) "...."It's a sensitive topic because we still haven't gone to war," said one industry executive. "But these companies are really in a position to win something out of this geopolitical situation."
    It remains unclear whether Iraqis, Americans or an international consortium will manage the oil industry during an early post-conflict period.
    Steven Schooner, a George Washington University law professor, said many billions of dollars are at stake. He estimated that $900m would barely last six months given the scope of the projects the administration has sketched out.
    "The most sophisticated firms that come in first, and establish good will with the locals obviously will reap huge benefits down the road," said Mr Schooner.
    "These are going to become brand names in Iraq. That's huge."

    March 11 ~"No matter what the circumstances, France will vote no to war,"

    French President Jacques Chirac said. "There is no cause for war to achieve the objective that we fixed - the disarmament of Iraq. See Britain losing the diplomatic war Evening Chronicle (external link)

    March 11~ John Randall, Conservative party Whip, has resigned

    because he does not consider a case has been made out for war on Iraq. He is the first opposition MP to have taken such a step. ICWales (external link)

    March 11 ~ UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said an attack on Iraq would be a violation of the UN Charter if it does not have the support of the Security Council

    CNN "... In his strongest statement yet regarding any possible U.S.-led military strike on Iraq, Annan was openly critical of any potential strike without U.N. approval. Asked at a news conference in The Hague whether an attack would violate the charter, which sets out the rights and obligations of U.N. member states, Annan said, "If the U.S. and others were to go outside the council and take military action, it would not be in conformity with the charter." The charter only allows the use of force for self-defense and actions taken "to maintain or restore international peace and security" through the Security Council. "

    March 11 ~ "Why do the supporters of this war find it so hard to see what is happening?"

    George Monbiot in today's Guardian "....Those of us who oppose the impending conquest of Iraq must recognise that there's a possibility that, if it goes according to plan, it could improve the lives of many Iraqi people. But to pretend that this battle begins and ends in Iraq requires a wilful denial of the context in which it occurs. That context is a blunt attempt by the superpower to reshape the world to suit itself.
    In this week's Observer, David Aaronovitch suggested that, before September 11, the Bush administration was "relatively indifferent to the nature of the regimes in the Middle East". Only after America was attacked was it forced to start taking an interest in the rest of the world. If Aaronovitch believes this, he would be well-advised to examine the website of the Project for the New American Century (external link), the pressure group established by, among others, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, Elliott Abrams and Zalmay Khalilzad, all of whom (except the president's brother) are now senior officials in the US government. ....Among other policies, it has called for the development of a new generation of biological agents, which will attack people with particular genetic characteristics.
    Why do the supporters of this war find it so hard to see what is happening? Why do the conservatives who go berserk when the European Union tries to change the content of our chocolate bars look the other way when the US seeks to reduce us to a vassal state? Why do the liberal interventionists who fear that Saddam Hussein might one day deploy a weapon of mass destruction refuse to see that George Bush is threatening to do just this against an ever-growing number of states? Is it because they cannot face the scale of the threat, and the scale of the resistance necessary to confront it? Is it because these brave troopers cannot look the real terror in the eye? "

    March 11 ~ The price of saying NO

    The US has a 28.5 billion dollar overseas aid budget. Colin Powell "... told the senators simply that the huge budget "will allow the United States to target security and economic assistance to sustain key countries supporting us in the war on terrorists, terrorism and helping us to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction". Of that overall 28.5 billion figure, 18.8 billions go directly to State Department and US Aid programmes, said Secretary of State Powell.
    "Today our number one priority is to fight and win the global war on terrorism. The budget furthers this goal by providing economic, military and democracy assistance (sic) to key foreign partners and allies, including 4.7 billion to those countries who have joined us in the war on terrorism", he told the senators.
    No need for complicated conspiracy theories here. That's what all those bucks are going to be spent on, and if you mess with the US you can whistle for your money.
    In the world of just one superpower, any nation which opposes Uncle Sam's latest war will pay the price, one way or the other."
    The independent voice of the Western Morning News (external link) on Monday.

    March 10 ~ the Prime Minister was focussing his energy on achieving a second Resolution....

    Press Briefing from 10 Downing Street.(external link)
    "Questioned as to whether it was tenable for a Cabinet Minister to suggest effectively that the Prime Minister was 'a bit of a nutter' and yet remain in the Cabinet, the PMOS (ie the Prime Minster's Official Spokesman) noted the interesting characterisation of Ms Short's comments but repeated that the Prime Minister was focussing his energy on achieving a second Resolution and would continue in that vein until he got it.
    Asked if, given he had not sacked her, the Prime Minister agreed with Ms Short's assessment that his behaviour had been 'reckless' and that launching military action against Iraq without a second Resolution would be a breach of international law undermining the UN, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had been surprised by Ms Short's comments last night, particularly since she had not taken the opportunity to express them previously in a bilateral meeting the two had had last Friday. That said, the Prime Minister was continuing to focus his energy on building a consensus for a second Resolution. He had not heard the interview last night because, coincidentally, he had was (sic) in conversation with other world leaders."
    "the interesting characterisation"? "coincidentally"? "bilateral meeting"? ...and, above all, "PMOS"?... what sort of English is this?

    March 10 ~ ".. there is a dispute over what was said during that meeting..."

    BBC News (external link) "....it later emerged that the prime minister had met Ms Short on Thursday, before her remarks, and there is a dispute over what was said during that meeting.
    It has been suggested she told Mr Blair that this was a resigning issue - and even that he accepted that and was only furious when she launched her attack on his recklessness.
    The prime minister's spokesman, however, insisted: "the issue of resignation did not come up."

    March 10 ~ "The members of the Security Council are now faced with a grave choice. If they fail to agree on a common position and action is taken without the authority of the Security Council, the legitimacy and support for any such action would be seriously impaired." Kofi Annan

    He added,"There are concerns about the long term consequences of war in Iraq. One must have no illusions about what war means."

    March 10 ~ "You can't stay and defend the indefensible in order to do some other things that you think need doing."

    Clare Short's words are impressive. So many other politicians have convinced themselves that they must hold their tongues because they need to stay in office in order to "do other things that need doing"
    What is the point if their consciences no longer function?
    Read the interview with Clare Short on last night's BBC Westminster Hour

    March 10 ~ Mr Bush Sr said that he would have been able to achieve nothing if he had jeopardised future relations by ignoring the UN.

    Roland Watson in today's Times "The first President Bush has told his son that hopes of peace in the Middle East would be ruined if a war with Iraq were not backed by international unity. Drawing on his own experiences before and after the 1991 Gulf War, Mr Bush Sr said that the brief flowering of hope for Arab-Israeli relations a decade ago would never have happened if America had ignored the will of the United Nations. He also urged the President to resist his tendency to bear grudges...... The former President's comments reflect unease among the Bush family and its entourage at the way that George W. Bush is ignoring international opinion and overriding the institutions that his father sought to uphold...... Mr Bush Sr even came close to conceding that opponents of his son's case against President Saddam Hussein, who he himself is on record as loathing, have legitimate cause for concern.
    He said that the key question of how many weapons of mass destruction Iraq held "could be debated". The case against Saddam was "less clear"than in 1991, when Mr Bush Sr led an international coalition to expel invading Iraqi troops from Kuwait. Objectives were "a little fuzzier today", he added. .... ...... Mr Bush Jr, who is said never to forget even relatively minor slights, has alarmed analysts with the way in which he has allowed senior Administration figures such as Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, aggressively to criticise France and Germany.
    Father and son talk regularly and it was, in part, pressure from Mr Bush Sr's foreign policy coterie, that helped to persuade the President to go to the UN last September. "

    March 10 ~ Clare Short

    Clare Short, International Development Secretary, also says she will resign if there isn't a second resolution. ...See Simon Jenkins' article of March 5 Clare Short, ally of the 'post-heroic strategists'
    On Sunday night Channel 4 news (external link) says, " ..an increasingly beleaguered Downing Street warned that resignations could encourage Saddam Hussein to think British resolve was weakening...."
    Moral blackmail but not very convincing.
    The Channel 4 report by Eloinor Goodman continues,"....Not that parliamentary private secretaries are house-hold names, but they are members of the government and have to give up their jobs if they vote against it . Andrew Reed could be joined by at least ten other parliamentary private secretaries, including Anne Cambell, parliamentary private secretaries to Patricia Hewitt. Ken Purchase, PPS to Robin Cook said he wouldn't stay in the government without a second resolution either. Far more worrying for Mr Blair would be if Robin Cook shared his views. According to one of his close colleagues, he too would resign if Britain ignored a veto and backed the Americans. ....But the real nightmare scenario for Mr Blair is not being able to get a majority at all the UN. Under those circumstances, three junior ministers have told Channel Four News they would consider their positions, and many more backbenchers would rebel. .."

    March 10 ~ "....There is a feeling that there is something reckless about some of the people around Tony Blair - that they are dangerous. ..

    ...."There is a feeling among many in the intelligence community that they are being forced to sacrifice their integrity for short-term political gain......." Sunday Observer (External link)
    "On 31 January a memo was sent from the National Security Agency in Maryland from one Frank Koza at GCHQ's American sister listening operation. The memo was blunt. It asked the recipients at GCHQ to help with an American mission: to analyse US intercepts of the homes and offices of certain UN delegations to the Security Council. It singled out key members of the UNSC (Angola, Cameroon, Guinea, Bulgaria, Chile and Pakistan) for special attention, but said the operation should stretch to all delegations (except Britain and America, of course) if that proved necessary to give the US an edge. The United States was looking for any information that could help Koza's government put pressure on these countries to vote for a US and UK-sponsored resolution that would authorise a war against Iraq.....What Koza never suspected was that someone outside the NSA would be so shocked by his request to help with a dirty tricks campaign that they would leak his memo, or that it would end up in the hands of The Observer. But by last week that memo had led to the biggest spy-hunt since the David Shayler affair. ..... The leak, however, raises as many questions as the number of secrets it reveals. The most pressing of these remains: why would a career intelligence officer risk discovery, ignominy and imprisonment to leak it in the first place? ."

    March 10 ~ Tony Blair is to get a new armour-plated Jaguar

    custom-built to protect him from ambush by Al-Qaeda terrorists using poison gas, rockets or high explosives. says the Sunday Times..
    (an emailer comments: "Or is it to protect him from those terrorists among us who send bags of rice and light candles? Words fail me!! So much time and money that would be better spent elsewhere...")
    Three of these cars are being produced, each costing £200,000

    March 10 ~ "Looks as if the slaughter of innocent Iraqis may begin on the second anniversary of Blair's minister authorising the slaughter of all animals within 3 km of an infected farm, 15 March 2001."

    email received "That led to the break up of MAFF and the alienation of a large portion of the population. This time it is likely to lead to the break up of NATO and the UN, and the alienation of most of the rest of the world. Blair managed to re-name MAFF, but it won't be so easy to replace NATO and the UN. Is that what Bush and Blair want?"

    March 9 ~ Chalabi did not after all know what he was talking about.

    "... the Iraqi Army and totalitarian civilian regime shows no sign of cracking and coming apart. Not even close. There has been so far a handful of defectors to the United States or to other countries, especially Jordan and Turkey. But they have been numbered in their dozens, not their hundreds and thousands as the Office of the Secretary of Defense civilian war hawks had confidently predicted and expected.
    Yet, as noted military analyst William Lind of Washington's conservative Free Congress Foundation has tellingly observed, "The entire U.S. war plan against Iraq was designed and based on the assumption that the Iraqis would not fight and that the Iraqi Army would fall apart." And this assumption itself was entirely based on the flood of supposedly priceless inside information that Chalabi had provided to his eager audience in OSD.
    Only within the last month, the Pentagon insiders say, has the penny finally dropped for Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and their supporters that Chalabi did not after all know what he was talking about. The man his admirers regularly called "The George Washington of Iraq" led the civilian masters of the largest, most powerful and expensive military organization in the world -- the U.S. Armed Forces -- up the garden path. No wonder, therefore that they have now dropped him like a hot potato and factored him out of their plans for a post- war Iraq in which he was previously groomed to take center stage..."

    March 9 ~ Today's Independent on Sunday: Not in our name, Mr Blair You do not have the evidence. You do not have UN approval. You do not have your country's support...

    .. You do not have your party's support. You do not have the legal right. You do not have the moral right..... ...The die is cast. President Bush says he will go to war with or without the backing of the UN. Tony Blair indicates he will support him. The senior UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, asks to be given more time - a few more months at most. His request is brushed aside by the US and the UK governments.
    There is only one way out of this nightmare: Tony Blair could be genuinely bold. This is his last chance to use his unique position close to the shoulder of President Bush to urge restraint, calm and reason - a cautionary voice that will be even more necessary if there is no second UN resolution authorising military action.
    It is a sad reflection on Mr Blair's position, locked in an alliance with President Bush, that we hold out no hope that he will use his influence to avert a rush to war. Yet before he leads this country into a conflict it does not want, with consequences too ghastly to contemplate, we urge Mr Blair to reflect again on the motives and justification for a pre-emptive strike unparalleled in modern times. None of the shifting causes for war have been convincing, and are even weaker now, on the eve of a military campaign:..." read article

    March 9 ~ Why I am going to the Gulf with a heavy heart - by a serving officer

    Sunday Telegraph I have grown increasingly uneasy with the British Government's policy towards Iraq and the seemingly inevitable war. In my service career, I have never felt compelled to speak to a journalist or contact a newspaper. Until now. ..."

    March 8 ~ They are allowed to shoot you dead

    A friend writes, "I am told by a usually reliable source that RAF Fairford (in Gloucestershire) is now American soil and if you break in, they are allowed to shoot you dead. I was on my way to verify this when my radiator sprang a leak."
    Reading this, another emailer (from America) wrote, "...that part about the RAF base being handed over to the "Yanks" - if you haven't read Daphne DuMaurier's 1974 novel Rule Britannia, then get a copy as soon as possible. She was amazingly prophetic."

    March 8 ~ "The cause of this mess can be traced back to the decision of the leaders of the sole global superpower

    .... stung by the events of September 11, to abandon the doctrines of deterrence and containment upon which the stability of international security had successfully been based since the end of the Second World War. There has been substituted for it, without either international discussion or any apparent rigorous intellectual debate, a doctrine of pre-emption. Given the serious questions now being asked in relation to the nuclear-armed North Korea, the international security community has a lot of thinking to do. ..." From a letter to the Times from Admiral Sir James Eberle, Director, The Royal Institute of International Affairs,1984-90

    March 8 ~ UK nuclear evidence a fake

    Guardian (external link) " British intelligence claims that Saddam Hussein has been trying to import uranium for a nuclear bomb are unfounded and based on deliberately fabricated evidence, according to an investigation by the UN nuclear inspectors in Iraq.
    The chief nuclear inspector for Iraq, Mohammed El Baradei, yesterday flatly contradicted Downing Street's and British intelligence's claims of attempted uranium smuggling by Iraq and said that the documents used to substantitate the British claim were "not authentic".
    In a 55-page report last September detailing British intelligence evidence of Baghdad's ongoing attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, the government said that since 1998 "Iraq has sought the supply of significant supplies of uranium from Africa". British officials named the state of Niger as the source of the uranium and passed their evidence to the UN nuclear watchdog, the international atomic energy agency, in Vienna. "Close scrutiny and cross-checking of the documents, the letterheads on them, the signatures on them, led us to conclude with quite absolute certainty that the documents were false," an IAEA official said. "They were fabricated," said another IAEA official.
    The fabrication was transparently obvious and quickly established, the sources added, suggesting that British intelligence was either easily hoodwinked or a knowing party to the deceit.
    There was no suggestion that the British were involved in falsifying the evidence which is believed to have been manufactured in Africa, probably in Niger, and then passed to western intelligence agencies."

    March 8 ~ Campbell revives roving press unit to 'spin the war'

    By Paul Waugh, Deputy Political Editor of the Independent A dedicated "war unit" is being set up by Downing Street to organise press and PR coverage during the forthcoming conflict in Iraq. The unit will be staffed by senior press officers from across Whitehall, many of whom have already volunteered for the project. It will be modelled on the Coalition Information Centre (CIC) .... The centre was criticised by some as a pure "propaganda machine" and its reputation was questioned after some members were tied to the notorious "dodgy dossier" on Iraq published by Downing Street last month. Tam Dalyell, a Labour backbencher, said: "It's quite wrong to have a spin unit. The dodgy dossier was the work of what Nigel Lawson would call teenage scribblers. It proves, once again, that Tony Blair is a disgrace to the Labour Party's traditions." ....... Mr Campbell is in daily contact with his counterparts in the White House communications team, and a joint strategy for "spinning the war", as well as winning it, is seen as a main priority.
    ....... Winning the propaganda war will be essential for Mr Blair and President George Bush, and the Americans have decided to allow a new strategy of "embedding" journalists with specific military units to follow their progress...."

    March 7 ~ The bigger picture is Iran

    Stephen Pollard in the Telegraph today: "....Despite the coverage of the Bush-Blair relationship, President George W Bush has been concerned all along to preserve Mr Blair's political capital. Indeed, just before the anti-war march, the Prime Minister took a call from Condoleezza Rice, Mr Bush's National Security Adviser..... he was far too important an ally to lose. ... If, Miss Rice continued, the Prime Minister judged that he needed to soften his tone and, in particular, distance himself from Mr Bush, the President was relaxed. The reason, as Miss Rice put it, was that the bigger picture required that the Prime Minister preserve as much political capital as possible. Both Mr Blair and Miss Rice knew what the "bigger picture" was without it having to be spelt out. The bigger picture is Iran.
    ...... The war on terror is not simply about destroying the Taliban and taking down Saddam; it is a far more complex operation. The President has carefully set about action in ascending order of difficulty. First the Taliban. Then Saddam. Then the next step, Iran - the world's leading financier of terror. North Korea will be left to China to deal with, with Mr Bush making clear to China that, if it does not take its responsibilities seriously, Japan will be given nuclear weapons.
    This is not speculation; talk, as I have, to those within the Bush circle - to those who share, and influence, the views of figures such as Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, who were pointing out the threat posed by terror long before September 11 - and they will take you through the plan step by step...
    .....After 20 years spent trying to isolate Iran, however, American intelligence is lamentable. MI6, on the other hand, has spent that time rebuilding its links and recruiting highly placed agents. America needs Britain if it is to deal with Iran. And that means it needs Mr Blair to remain in office. ."

    March 7 ~ "..what I dislike even more than Saddam's nasty regime are government lies and propaganda."

    "Since 9/11, North Americans have been subjected to the most intense propaganda campaign from their government since World War II. Much of the mainstream US media has been intimidated by the Administration into unquestioningly amplifying its party line, or, in the worst tradition of yellow, jingoist journalism, it acts as cheerleaders for war. ....A shocking two-thirds of Americans mistakenly believe Iraq staged the 9/11 attacks. ..." http://www.bigeye.com/foreignc.htm

    March 7 ~ "Bush's domestic consensus around the war showed signs of fraying

    in the face of an international anti-war movement that has mobilised millions of people to oppose the war.
    Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said on Thursday an invasion of Iraq now would be premature, and accused the administration of failing to build international support for war to oust Saddam...." See Reuters (external link)

    March 7 ~ "BBC executives are steeling themselves for accusations of bias."

    A report in the Times tells us that "...The BBC has ordered staff to reflect "significant opposition to the conflict" in coverage of a war in Iraq. Guidelines sent to journalists by Stephen Whittle, the corporation's controller of editorial policy, say that views challenging the whole basis of military action must be heard even when British troops are in action. .."
    An emailer comments: "My question to the government is who pays the licence fee?..Joe Public. If the country is against war then reporting should be more balanced - not another arm of government spin even if parliament is pro war. How else do you have a non propaganda argument?"

    March 7 ~we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe ... There is no secret and there is no defence; there is no possibility of control except through the aroused understanding and insistence of the people of the world.

    "And a child will lead us to peace." But if we contaminate the environment, where will the child come from? .... When you reach a point in war when the contamination and the health effects of war can't be cleaned up because of the weapons you use, and medical care can't be given to the soldiers who participated in the war on either side or to the civilians affected, then it's time for peace...." (The interview with Major Doug Rokke PhD in health physics who was originally trained as a forensic scientist. When the Gulf War started, he was assigned to prepare soldiers to respond to nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare, and sent to the Gulf. What he experienced has made him a passionate voice for peace, travelling the country to speak out.) The interview finishes with this quotation from Albert Einstein, as quoted in 'Let There be a World' by Felix Greene, 1964:
    " The splitting of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe ... There is no secret and there is no defence; there is no possibility of control except through the aroused understanding and insistence of the people of the world."

    March 6 ~ Less than two days after the petition was launched

    over 550,000 people have signed, from over 200 countries. It's a strong message from the peoples of the world that the Security Council should support tough inspections in Iraq, not war. It's also the fastest-growing online petition we've ever seen -- and already one of the largest in history. ( From the Moveon.org website)

    March 6 ~ Troops told war to start March 17, says paper

    LONDON (Reuters) - British troops based in the Gulf had been told to prepare for an invasion of Iraq on March 17, the Daily Express has reported.
    The newspaper, quoting unnamed Westminster sources, said British officers based in Kuwait had been told to expect an invasion on that date, preceded by a massive "short and sharp" air blitz on Iraq from March 13.

    March 5/6 ~"It cannot be right to use a weapon of mass destruction - 800 cruise missiles on Baghdad in 48 hours - because that is what Saddam "might do" if we do not get him first"

    Simon Jenkins in the Times "...... Tony Blair needs Clare Short as much as George Bush needs Tony Blair. If she were to defect from the war party, Mr Blair would be in deep trouble. If Mr Blair is in deep trouble, then Mr Bush is as well. So this Ms Short is one powerful lady. Each morning the world gathers round her conscience like physicians round the bed of George III? How does it fare? ..........
    ......Even in the theatre of war, moral considerations are entitled to a cameo role. It cannot be right to tear up every rulebook in fighting terrorism, just because bin Laden did. It cannot be right to cluster-bomb Iraqis just because Saddam did likewise. It cannot be right to use a weapon of mass destruction - 800 cruise missiles on Baghdad in 48 hours - because that is what Saddam "might do" if we do not get him first. ...Some things in politics are beyond irony. This month the erstwhile conscience of the Left, Clare Short, finds herself a crucial moral prop to those she once despised as the militarist-imperialist American Right. Now in their hour of need, she is suddenly by their side.
    I repeat, how long can she stand it? This war is a moral issue, as Mr Blair keeps saying, but so too is the manner of its waging. Eight hundred cruise missiles and delayed action cluster bombs have moral import. So does the blitz of Baghdad. It is not often in history that a politician can claim her conscience has the power to move men and mountains. For a brief moment, Ms Short can."

    March 5 ~ Anti war activist put on suspected terror list for sending food to Jack Straw

    Read report Someone described as a "peace activist" ".. has allegedly been placed on a suspected terrorist list after sending a letter to Jack Straw, containing rice as part of a letter writing campaign to evoke compassion in the Foreign Office for the ordinary people in Iraq facing a massive humanitarian crisis in the event of war. The letter unexpectedly closed down Jack Straw's office for 3 hours on Friday January 24th after an x ray of the mail sparked a bio terror alert. The activist was visited by police that night who told him of the result of his innocent mailing and advised him he was now on a suspected terrorist list and it was only his postcode and his "respectable" family that saved him from being raided by anti terror police. The campaign, "deluge the decision makers" was initiated by anti war group Voices in the Wilderness UK, who are now concerned that they and the many other supporters who took part in the action are now on a list of suspected terrorists..
    .......Voices in the Wilderness UK spokesperson Richard Byrne said, "Our action was never intended to cause any fear or alarm at the foreign office and we regret that it did. Our intention was simply to evoke feelings of compassion for the 22 million people in Iraq who right now have real reason for fear and alarm from the terror of a US/ UK attack. We are greatly concerned at the heavy handed police response to this incident. We have written to the police and the Home Office seeking reassurance without response. It is ridiculous that someone could be told by a police officer they are on list of suspected terrorists for sending foodstuffs to the foreign office." ."(more)

    March 5 ~ Manure protest

    received by email.. "9am, This morning Undercurrents recorded Mark Thomas dumping a truckload of manure at labour party offices in London in protest at the UK/US resolution 2 about the Iraq War.
    Broadcast video images are available from Underurrents on 07973 298359" See also Ananova report

    March 5 ~ Independent Iraqis oppose Bush's war

    Not every group takes US cash. Some worry about their people Jonathan Steele in today's Guardian (external link)
    "A new myth has emerged in the pro-war camp's propaganda arsenal. Iraqi exiles support the war, they claim, and none took part in last month's march through central London. So if the peaceniks and leftwingers who joined the protest had the honesty to listen to the true voice of the Iraqi people they would never denounce Bush's plans for war again.
    Wrong, and wrong. A large number of Iraqis were among the million-member throng, including two key independent political groups. They carried banners denouncing Saddam Hussein (thereby echoing the sentiments of many non-Iraqis since this was not a protest by pro-Saddam patsies, as the pro-war people also falsely claim). They represented important currents in the Iraqi opposition, and ones whom the Americans have repeatedly tried to persuade to join the exiles' liaison committee. ...."

    March 5 ~ In rejecting Washington's demands, the recession-hit country is turning its back on US aid worth more than $20 billion (£13 billion).

    'Serves Rude America Right' by Suna Erdem Published on Monday, March 3, 2003 in the Times.
    "NESRIN ALOGLU, a bank clerk, is delighted that Turkey's parliament has thrown Washington's plans for an attack on Iraq into disarray by blocking the deployment of US troops. "Serves them right. Now they can apologise."
    Apologise, she said, for the way in which the United States so rudely took Turkey for granted and issued threats, insults and ultimatums when it did not get what it wanted.
    In rejecting Washington's demands, the recession-hit country is turning its back on US aid worth more than $20 billion (£13 billion).
    But Turks still support the parliament's decision. "At least it's cleared Turkey's name and dispelled the image abroad that Turkey can be bought," Zafer Dorttas, a 27-year-old customs official, said. .....Read article

    March 4 ~ "....Patrick Tyler, a perceptive writer in the New York Times, says that Bush and Blair now face a "tenacious new adversary" - the public.

    He says we are heading into a new bipolar world with two new superpowers: the regime in Washington on one side, and world public opinion on the other. In a poll of half a million Europeans, Time magazine asked which country was the greatest threat to peace: 5.8 per cent said North Korea, 6.8 per cent said Iraq and 87 per cent said the United States. In other words, the game is up..." John Pilger's article here is essential reading

    March 4 ~ "Russia would not support any decision that would directly or indirectly lead to a war with Iraq"

    ".....The foreign minister, who was meeting his British counterpart Jack Straw for talks later on Tuesday, said it would be a "serious mistake with serious consequences" if the United States went to war against Iraq without a second U.N. resolution." Reuters (external link)

    March 4 ~ Americans think that violence is the price of paradise. Europeans know it isn't.

    Telegraph Opinion (external link)..."The French, Germans and Russians have proposed to the UN Security Council that another four months should be set aside for the inspectors to do their job comprehensively. If those four months will avert a war, then only a lunatic would not consider taking those four months - a lunatic, or someone who considers delay and moderation a sign of weakness, who believes in the moral world of The Lion King, or a politician who is anxious to have a good unequivocal victory behind him in time for the green shoots to start appearing before the 2004 presidential election campaign gets under way...."

    March 4 ~ Polls show more than 80 per cent of Spaniards oppose war even with United Nations backing

    Associated Press - "MADRID A shy former tax inspector has led Spain kicking and screaming into ground zero of the Iraq crisis, gambling that his avid support for the United States will help his country gain global clout...."

    March 4 ~ our opinion is that: The Draft Resolution would not authorise the US and the UK to use force against Iraq if it were adopted.

    ...... would not provide the US and the UK with an authorisation to use force against Iraq, either alone or in conjunction with Resolution 1441. Nor does Resolution 1441 authorise force in the event that it is breached by Iraq.
    40. Any attack by US and the UK on Iraq in reliance on the Draft Resolution either alone or in conjunction with Resolution 1441 would be in breach of international law.
    RABINDER SINGH QC
    CHARLOTTE KILROY Matrix Chambers Griffin Building Gray's Inn
    3 March 2003 See http://www.greenhealth.org.uk/IraqLegal.htm

    Mar 3 ~ "They respond to the threats they encounter..."

    Interesting Newspeak from Mr Blair's "spokesman" MoD denies change in 'no-fly zone' bombings (external link) This afternoon's update from the Guardian "Britain has denied Pentagon reports that allied planes were increasing their strikes on Iraqi targets in a bid to soften up the country for war, as the first of a wave of US B52 bombers touched down at an RAF base in Gloucestershire today. Both Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence refuted reports that allied aircraft patrolling the "no-fly zones" above northern and southern Iraq have switched to a more aggressive strategy.
    Pentagon sources were reported to have disclosed that British and US aircraft were now targeting surface-to-surface missiles, which could threaten allied forces during a ground war.
    But Mr Blair's spokesman insisted: "The policy in the no-fly zone continues as it was. They patrol the no-fly zones as they did before. They respond to the threats they encounter." ......."

    Mar 2/3 ~ Revealed: US dirty tricks to win vote on Iraq war

    - The Observer Secret document details American plan to bug phones and emails of key Security Council members "The United States is conducting a secret 'dirty tricks' campaign against UN Security Council delegations in New York as part of its battle to win votes in favour of war against Iraq...."

    March 2/3 ~ US prepares to use toxic gases in Iraq

    The US is preparing to use the toxic riot-control agents CS gas and pepper spray in Iraq in contravention of the Chemical Weapons Convention, provoking the first split in the Anglo-US alliance. "Calmative" gases, similar to the one that killed 120 hostages in the Moscow theatre siege last year, could also be employed. The convention bans the use of these toxic agents in battle, not least because they risk causing an escalation to full chemical warfare. This applies even though they can be used in civil disturbances at home: both CS gas and pepper spray are available for use by UK police forces. The US Marine Corps confirmed last week that both had already been shipped to the Gulf. It is British policy not to allow troops to take part in operations where riot control agents are employed. .... Read article

    March 2/3 ~ "Tony Blair is a brave man who prides himself on being another Churchill. He must be wary of being another Ramsay MacDonald.

    This is said to be a listening government; one that listens to the people. They should listen - not to transatlantic ideologues but to the wisdom, humanity and decency of the British people. ..." See the article in the Guardian based on Lord Morgan's speech in the debate on Iraq in the House of Lords on Wednesday. He is a fellow of Queen's College, Oxford, and his many books include biographies of Keir Hardie, Lloyd George and James Callaghan, and a history of the Attlee government.

    March 1 ~ A career diplomat who has served in United States embassies from Tel Aviv to Casablanca to Yerevan resigned this week in protest against the country's policies on Iraq.

    The diplomat, John Brady Kiesling, the political counselor at the United States Embassy in Athens, said in his resignation letter, "Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson."...see report in the New York Times

    March 1 ~" I am vigorously pro-American, which is one reason why I am anti-Bush. They deserve better."

    Richard Dawkins in today's Independent: Why should we in Britain help Bush to get re-elected? (external link) I am vigorously pro-American, which is one reason why I am anti-Bush. They deserve better 01 March 2003
    "Tony Blair's restless shifting of his justification for war undermines conviction, for standard "lady doth protest too much" reasons. More important is the dangerous paradox that his opportunism must arouse in the mind of Saddam Hussein. When the stated aim was to disarm him, Saddam had only to comply and war would be averted. But if the aim is to save the poor helpless Iraqis from their wicked tyrant, everything changes. Why would anyone disarm on the eve of an inevitable attack? Mr Blair's sudden shift to the moral high ground is presumably a desperate (and it now seems unsuccessful) bid to win over his own party. But has he thought through how it will be viewed in Iraq?..."

    Feb 28 ~ Simon Jenkins - "...Next week the local election campaign begins in earnest"

    See article in the Times today on the local elections "..It could be a wartime poll. Only Mr Kennedy will view it with relish. With the Tories stumbling and Labour crippled by its leader's war dance, a Liberal Democrat breakthrough could be on the cards."

    Feb 28 ~ Hell Bent for War

    See CounterPunch article "For the past six years, PNAC (Project for the New American Century ) has lobbied former President Clinton and Bush heavily to initiate a war in Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power, claiming the country poses a serious threat to the U.S. and its allies because of its ability to develop weapons of mass destruction. Clinton rebuffed the advice by PNAC members during the last four years of his presidency, but Bush has virtually used, word for word, the written statements by PNAC members when he speaks publicly about Iraq crisis.....Dozens of letters and reports by PNAC members concerning Iraq are posted on its website, www.newamericancentury.org, and lays out in startling detail how war is the only way to deal with the so-called threat that Iraq poses to the U.S. Bush has drawn upon many of these letters to publicly make a case for war. Reading through the letters, the impression it leaves is not that the U.S. is in imminent danger but that the people that run PNAC have been hell-bent for war for six years and they finally got a president who will listen to them...."

    Feb 27/28 ~ "Forty-three Australian experts in international law and human rights legislation have issued a declaration that an invasion of Iraq will be an open breach of international law and a crime against humanity

    (http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/feb2003/law-f27.shtml) even if it takes place with the authorisation of the UN Security Council. ....... Submitted as an open letter to Australian newspapers and published yesterday by the Sydney Morning Herald, the signatories include Professor Chris Sidoti of the Human Rights Council of Australia; Sir Ronald Wilson, a former High Court judge and the President of the Human Rights Commission; Simon Rice, the president of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights; the directors of several university centres for human rights law; prominent barristers; and lecturers at Australia's most prestigious law schools...."

    Feb 27/28 ~ Did your own MP vote against?

    The Telegraph report. A total of 199 MPs - including 121 Labour members, 13 Tories, 52 Liberal Democrats and 13 from other parties - backed a cross-party amendment to the Government motion stating that the case for military action is "as yet unproven". Here are the 199.

    Feb 27 ~ Western Morning News asks - Did your MP represent your views?

    An article from this excellent and independent newspaper which reveals the way West Country MPs voted last night, together with their reasons. This is fascinating....and in some cases very alarming. We find it interesting that those West Country MPs who have been supportive over FMD are also voicing humane and serious views over Iraq (while there is also some muddled / obsequious thinking.) An emailer writes "...interestingly, out of the miserable score of 13 Tories that did (i.e. vote against), another of our old allies during FMD stepped forth. Namely, Peter Ainsworth". Thank you yet again, Mr Ainsworth.

    Feb 27 ~ Back-bench rebellion rocks Blair

    The Scotsman, a paper that has appeared unaccountably pro-war, reports today (external link) : "TONY Blair suffered the biggest rebellion of his premiership last night, when 121 Labour MPs - almost half of the party's back-benchers - voted against the government's policy on Iraq.
    In a damaging split in the Labour ranks, a string of former cabinet ministers led scores of back-bench rebels to defy a three-line whip by supporting a motion stating the case for war remained unproven, despite a personal appeal by Mr Blair. The amendment was defeated by 393 to 199 votes, with 52 Liberal Democrats, ten nationalists and independents and 13 Conservatives joining the Labour rebels. A second vote on the government motion expressing support for the United Nations' route was won by 434 votes to 124. The size of the Labour revolt was much higher than the 100 originally predicted and will raise questions about Mr Blair's ability to persuade the country and his party that Britain and the United States should proceed with military action...a string of prominent former ministers, led by Chris Smith, the former culture secretary, and Frank Dobson, the former health secretary, lined up to attack. Other rebels included Gavin Strang, George Galloway and Tam Dalyell. The revolt was reported to be the biggest ever inflicted on a government party. ."

    Feb 27 ~ "An outfit exists on 17th Street in Washington, DC, called the Project for the New American Century...

    .... explicitly committed to US mastery of the globe for the coming age. Its acolytes speak of "full spectrum dominance", meaning American invincibility in every field of warfare - land, sea, air and space - and a world in which no two nations' relationship with each other will be more important than their relationship with the US. There will be no place on earth, or the heavens for that matter, where Washington's writ does not run supreme. To that end, a ring of US military bases should surround China, with liberation of the People's Republic considered the ultimate prize. As one enthusiast puts it concisely: "After Baghdad, Beijing."
    If this sounds like the harmless delusions of an eccentric fringe, think again. The founder members of the project, launched in 1997 as a Republican assault on the Clinton presidency, form a rollcall of today's Bush inner circle. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush, Richard Perle - they're all there. So too is Zalmay Khalilzad, now the White House's "special envoy and ambassador-at-large for free Iraqis". ....." Jonathan Freedland in today's Guardian (external link)

    Feb 27 ~ 'Any fool can make war. Peace requires greater vision and courage'

    Ronan Bennett in today's Guardian (external link): "...that I and the dozens who signed the petitions against war in Iraq, along with the millions around the world who marched on February 15, stand accused of more or less the same things: playing into Saddam's hands, lack of moral judgment, stubborn failure to understand that bombing is the only answer. And we are pressed to answer the question: well, what would you do? It seems to me the question is itself dubious: first, it assumes that Iraq currently poses a threat of major proportions, that we take at his word the prime minister when he says that Saddam is capable of hitting British targets, and Bush when he says that Iraq poses a danger to the US, and that a greatly militarily enervated Iraq would repeat its strikes against its now much more powerful neighbours.
    Hans Blix and Mohamed El Baradei, in their report to the UN Security Council on February 14, said that they had uncovered "no evidence" that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. I support military sanctions against Saddam and a strengthening of the UN weapons inspection teams. But until evidence of his weapons capability is forthcoming, I reserve the right to question the accuracy of what the British and American governments tell me. ..."

    Feb 26 ~"..Millions of concerned souls gave the media and politicians a taste of their own Ceausescu moment on February 15.

    ..... Blair has ceaselessly claimed that the military build up is inspired by Vegetius' maxim: "Let him who desires peace, prepare for war." But his claim has been ceaselessly undermined by the amassing of sufficient military force to present the world with a fait accompli, making withdrawal politically suicidal. It has also been undermined by Bush's insistence on the need for "regime change". When Bush's advisers noticed the absurdity of the contradiction they had Bush explain that "regime change" could mean either actually changing the regime, or effectively changing the regime by forcing it to change its behaviour. No one was fooled.
    Despite Blair's 'impassioned sincerity' - carefully orchestrated by his press secretary Alastair Campbell - everyone could see that the world's strongest nation was proceeding, as Mark Twain wrote, "with its banner of the Prince of Peace in one hand and its loot-basket and its butcher-knife in the other".
    "..Tony Blair's affectation of sincerity is his one trick and he plays it brilliantly. But Bush is the mirror in which we see Blair reflected for what he is... The much-discussed conundrum regarding Blair's sincerity is resolved by a simple observation - no reasonable person would ally themselves and their country with the likes of Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Powell and Perle to fight a war of this kind. And no honest person would try to fool the public that these men were acting honourably..
    " A long but readable article from the excellent MediaLens.com on peaceful civil disobedience and the extraordinary way the press in general are reporting the build up to war.

    Feb 26 ~ one dead end after another

    UN Inspectors say US intelligence is garbage after garbage (external link) "...the U.S. claim that Iraq is developing missiles that could hit its neighbors - or U.S. troops in the region, or even Israel - is just one of the claims coming from Washington that inspectors here are finding increasingly unbelievable. The inspectors have become so frustrated trying to chase down unspecific or ambiguous U.S. leads that they've begun to express that anger privately in no uncertain terms. U.N. sources have told CBS News that American tips have lead to one dead end after another...So frustrated have the inspectors become that one source has referred to the U.S. intelligence they've been getting as "garbage after garbage after garbage." In fact, Phillips says the source used another cruder word. The inspectors find themselves caught between the Iraqis, who are masters at the weapons-hiding shell game, and the United States, whose intelligence they've found to be circumstantial, outdated or just plain wrong. "

    Feb 26 ~ the UN, flawed as it is, is all we have.

    Today's Independent (external link) ".... many Labour MPs act as though they would accept the slaughter of the first-born if it had been ordered by the UN and if the soldiers carrying out the policy wore blue helmets. But there is a respectable case to be made against a war on Iraq, even a war sanctioned by the UN. Even so, when it comes to international law and trying to impose some sort of constraints on America's unilateralist instincts, the UN, flawed as it is, is all we have. When Mr Blair spoke yesterday about the current crisis being a test of the UN's credibility, he was right, if for the wrong reasons. What Mr Blair means by "credibility" is that the UN must agree with him. Hence his remarks in the past about being willing to ignore an "unreasonable" veto by, say, France or Russia, as if Mr Blair were the sole arbiter of what is or is not "reasonable" about another nation's diplomacy...."
    "...War is always an admission of failure. Saddam Hussein has been a threat to peace and security in the region, and to his own people; the question is whether today, with a strong UN presence in the country and with a formidable deterrent in the shape of Western forces in the region, Saddam poses a clear and present danger to his neighbours. With an even stronger UN force in Iraq, as Jacques Chirac, the French President, suggests, he would be even weaker. Set that against the destabilisation of the whole region from Palestine to Pakistan and the upsurge of terrorism that would ensue if we went to war. An effectively neutralised Saddam is what we have now. It is what Mr Blair and Mr Bush want. The world does not want a clash of civilisations. There is no need for war. "

    Feb 25 ~ Conflict and catchphrases

    Brian Whitaker explains in today's Guardian what 'creative destruction' and 'total war' mean in the context of current US foreign policy
    "..... Many of the total war and creative destruction crowd get their ideas across to the public through an agency called Benador Associates, which arranges their TV appearances and speaking engagements, and helps to place their articles in newspapers. The agency, which has offices in New York, London and Paris, is run by Eleana Benador, a Peruvian-born linguist. Since I last wrote about Ms Benador (US thinktanks give lessons in foreign policy World dispatch, August 19 2002), her business seems to have expanded remarkably. ....The Benador website lists more than 220 published articles, including 50 in the National Review, 42 in the Washington Times, 37 in the Washington Post, 18 in the National Post, 17 in the Wall Street Journal, 15 in the Los Angeles Times, eight each in the New York Post and the Jerusalem Post, and six in the New York Times.
    Two others appeared in Britain: one in the Financial Times, and the other in the Daily Telegraph.
    Readers who like to keep an eye on such things should watch out for media appearances by any of the following Benador "experts": AM Rosenthal, Alexander M Haig Jr, Amir Taheri, Arnaud de Borchgrave, Azar Nafisi, Barry Rubin, Charles Jacobs, Charles Krauthammer, Fereydoun Hoveyda, Frank J Gaffney Jr, George Jonas, Hillel Fradkin, Ismail Cem, John Eibner, Kanan Makiya, Khalid Duran, Khidhir Hamza, Laurie Mylroie, Mansoor Ijaz, Martin Kramer, Max Boot, Meyrav Wurmser, Michael A Ledeen, Michael Rubin, Michel Gurfinkiel, Paul Marshall, R James Woolsey, Richard O Spertzel, Richard Perle, Richard Pipes, Ruth Wedgwood, Shaykh Kabbani, Stanley H Kaplan, Tashbih Sayyed, Tom Rose and Walid Phares.

    Feb 25 ~ We keep being told that Afghanistan was liberated; in fact the reverse is true. But the US objective was achieved; the pipeline is now being built.

    See today's Independent Living in poverty and fear of abandonment, the barely functioning state that trusted its saviours (external link)

    Feb 25 ~ ".. it is simply not true or realistic to believe that there is nothing that one individual can do"

    Dr. Priscilla Elworthy, head of the Oxford Research Group (ORG) of U.K. is to receive 20th Niwano Peace Prize
    .. The Niwano Peace Foundation reports In Dr. Elworthy's own words, "When faced with a large system composed of many individuals, which is producing results you may want to change or influence, it is simply not true or realistic to believe that there is nothing that one individual can do. With a small number of allies, the effects of the decision of one individual can spread dramatically throughout the whole system, and thereby change the decisions it produces."
    When we think of the practice of nuclear inspection and the fundamental contradiction immanent in nuclear power, Dr. Elworthy's words about working toward the elimination of nuclear weapons resound strongly in the innermost hearts of modern people like ourselves. How strong a force nonviolence has proved to be at times. The activities of Dr. Elworthy and the Oxford Research Group can be seen as an attempt to bring about a major shift in the values of modern people who even now cling to the concept of "power." In awarding the 20th Niwano Peace Prize to Dr. Elworthy, the Niwano Peace Foundation wishes to express its deepest respect for her dedication to the goal of peace. We commend Dr. Elworthy's significant achievements and pray that many others will be inspired to follow in her footsteps.

    Feb 25 ~ Robert Fisk: How the news will be censored in this war

    A new CNN system of 'script approval' suggests the Pentagon will have nothing to worry about "Already, the American press is expressing its approval of the coverage of American forces which the US military intends to allow its reporters in the next Gulf war. The boys from CNN, CBS, ABC and The New York Times will be "embedded" among the US marines and infantry. The degree of censorship hasn't quite been worked out. But it doesn't matter how much the Pentagon cuts from the reporters' dispatches. A new CNN system of "script approval" - the iniquitous instruction to reporters that they have to send all their copy to anonymous officials in Atlanta to ensure it is suitably sanitised - suggests that the Pentagon and the Department of State have nothing to worry about. Nor do the Israelis.
    Indeed, reading a new CNN document, "Reminder of Script Approval Policy", fairly takes the breath away. "All reporters preparing package scripts must submit the scripts for approval," it says. "Packages may not be edited until the scripts are approved... All packages originating outside Washington, LA (Los Angeles) or NY (New York), including all international bureaus, must come to the ROW in Atlanta for approval."
    The date of this extraordinary message is 27 January.... "

    Feb 25 ~" the US is, paradoxically, threatening its own tyrannical control of other nations... "

    (George Monbiot today with a grain of hope from the wreckage) "The US,... seems to be ripping up the global rulebook. As it does so, those of us who have campaigned against the grotesque injustices of the existing world order will quickly discover that a world with no institutions is even nastier than a world run by the wrong ones. Multilateralism, however inequitable it may be, requires certain concessions to other nations. Unilateralism means piracy: the armed robbery of the poor by the rich. The difference between today's world order and the one for which the US may be preparing is the difference between mediated and unmediated force.
    But the possible collapse of the current world order, dangerous as it will be, also provides us with the best opportunities we have ever encountered for replacing the world's unjust and coercive institutions with a fairer and more democratic means of global governance.
    By wrecking the multilateral system for the sake of a few short-term, corporate interests, the US is, paradoxically, threatening its own tyrannical control of other nations. The existing international agencies, fashioned by means of brutal power politics at the end of the second world war, have permitted the US to develop its international commercial and political interests more effectively than it could have done alone. ..."

    Feb 25 ~ Blair faces revolt over Iraq

    By Katherine Baldwin LONDON (Reuters) -"Prime Minister Tony Blair could suffer a major revolt from within the Labour Party when he lays out his hardline stance on disarming Iraq before a divided parliament today.
    As Britain and the United States table a second United Nations resolution which could set the stage for war against Iraq, Blair is set for a rough ride when he addresses parliament on Tuesday and at a full debate and vote on Wednesday.
    With Labour split over a possible war and the public hostile to an attack, the vote in the House of Commons could deal a further blow to Blair's precarious position at home over Iraq.
    In a bid to skirt opposition to war, the government will carefully word the debate's motion to focus on Britain's approach to dealing with Iraq through the U.N., rather than asking parliament to support military action...." (more)

    Feb 25 ~ Text of U.S.-British draft resolution

    click here

    Feb 25 ~ "Washington is at least five votes short with support guaranteed only from Britain, Spain and Bulgaria"

    " Senior U.S. officials have been quietly dispatched in recent days to the capitals of key Security Council countries where they are warning leaders to vote with the United States on Iraq or risk "paying a heavy price."...." ".....Since both Germany and Syria have said they would not support the resolution, and Pakistan is almost certain to abstain, the United States must convince the African trio as well as Chile and Mexico to cast 'yes' votes. Otherwise, the resolution will fail. Much to the frustration of the Bush administration, Mexico, which has been vocal in its opposition to war, is turning out to be the most difficult vote to get. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar also paid a visit to Mexico last week but he failed to secure their support. Diplomats said there was little the Bush administration could use to scare or entice Mexico now since it does not receive U.S. aid and the one thing it had wanted most - legalizing the status of undocumented Mexicans in the United States - was taken off the table more than one year ago...." See Associated Press article

    Feb 25 ~ A Regime That Hates Democracy Can't Wage War for Democracy

    This headline is from an article on common dreams.org "Though the trappings of free speech remain on the surface of American society, the Homeland Security Act, Patriot I, Patriot II and other massively repressive legislation, plus Republican control of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, plus GOP dominance of the mass media, have laid the legal and political framework for a totalitarian infrastructure which, when combined with the capabilities of modern computer technology, may be unsurpassed.
    The Administration has used the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, as pretext for this centralization of power. But most of it was in the works long before September 11 as part of the war on drugs and Bush's modus operandi as the most secretive and authoritarian president in US history. ..."

    Feb 25 ~".. there is deep disquiet in Britain's military establishment about the confused objectives of a war and a pre-emptive strike against a country that poses no threat to the attackers."

    Guardian article yesterday"Blair says "now" because George Bush says so. Put it another way, had Washington decided to continue with a policy of containment, Blair would have followed suit. This, too, is the common view in Whitehall. It helps explain the government's problem in justifying a war.
    Claims that the Iraqi regime is linked with al-Qaida were dropped when ministers failed to provide the evidence. Blair and his ministers follow the wind from Washington and then counter public opinion at home. First, the objective was to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. When the UN inspectors reported progress and "intelligence" dossiers were seen to be bogus, the emphasis shifted to regime change. When this was met with objections, notably of legality, Blair went for the moral high ground.
    The objectives were muddied further when Blair defended the "moral case" for war as follows: "It is not the reason we act. That must be according to the UN mandate on weapons of mass destruction. But it is the reason, frankly, why if we do have to act, we should do so with a clear conscience."

    Feb 24 ~ Inside Iraq - The Tragedy of a People Betrayed

    John Pilger in the Independent
    "The mushrooms grow huge, and the fish in what was once a beautiful river are inedible. Even the grapes in my garden have mutated and can't be eaten."
    "What do you say to those in the West who deny the connection between depleted uranium and the deformities of these children?" "That is not true. How much proof do they want? There is every relation between congenital malformation and depleted uranium. Before 1991, we saw nothing like this at all. If there is no connection, why have these things not happened before? Most of these children have no family history of cancer. "I have studied what happened in Hiroshima. It is almost exactly the same here; we have an increased percentage of congenital malformation, an increase of malignancy, leukaemia, brain tumours: the same." Under the economic embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council, now in its 14th year, Iraq is denied equipment and expertise to decontaminate its battlefields from the 1991 Gulf War. Professor Doug Rokke, the US Army physicist responsible for cleaning up Kuwait, told me: "I am like many people in southern Iraq. I have 5,000 times the recommended level of radiation in my body. Most of my team are now dead....

    Feb 24 ~ "...All of us have to break the silence: to make those responsible, in Washington and London, aware that history will slaughter them."

    ....""The suffering in our country is too great. But why has it not been stopped?"
    It was a question I put to Denis Halliday one evening in New York. We were standing, just the two of us, in the great modernist theatre that is the General Assembly at the UN. "This is where the real world is represented," he said. "One state, one vote. By contrast, the Security Council has five permanent members which have veto rights. There is no democracy there. Had the issue of sanctions on Iraq gone to the General Assembly, it would have been overturned by a very large majority. "We have to change the United Nations, to reclaim what is ours. The genocide in Iraq is the test of our will. All of us have to break the silence: to make those responsible, in Washington and London, aware that history will slaughter them." (Independent)

    Feb 24 ~ "British soldiers, as in the Gulf, are to be sent into action with the useless SA80 rifle,

    the worst in the world, green camouflage which will stand out like a sore thumb in the desert, tanks which break down in the presence of sand and boots that fall to pieces. In danger of being killed by panicky or drugged US airmen. Our service men and women joined the Forces to defend their country, not no be used as cannon fodder for US billionaires dreaming of world domination. " (Eric Clements)

    Feb 24 ~ Fairford, Gloucestershire, UK, is one of the three forward bases for B-52 bombers. There are concerns that they may be carrying nuclear weapons.

    Report on Fairford Citizen's Weapons Inspection, Sunday 23 Feb 2003 from Dr Richard Lawson
    "Arrive at the demo already charged up with enthusiasm from listening to "Seize the Day". A crowd of the usual suspects, Gloucestershire Citizen's Weapons Inspectors (GWI) clambering into their white overalls, people in rainbow hats trying to figure out which way up the banner should go, dogs, drummers testing out their drums and country cops with ruddy faces standing around at ease, radiating peaceful vibes to all. ..." (more)

    Feb 23 ~ This week's Sunday Scare story is...Every home to get terror attack guide by Adam Nathan.

    ".HOUSEHOLDERS are to be given guidance on how to survive in the face of a catastrophic terrorist attack....." See Sunday Times (external link) ..... The guidance, which ministers intend to reach all 24m homes in Britain, will include a shopping list of items that should be bought before a possible biological, chemical or nuclear strike. Senior civil servants will this week meet emergency planning officers to discuss methods of disseminating the information without causing panic. ..." And this nonsense will cost....?

    Feb 23 ~ "This is a war we won't even know has started," says Gen. Lewis McKenzie, the Canadian former chief of U.N. forces in Yugoslavia..."

    Toronto Star "It won't begin with CNN reporters and rockets bursting over Baghdad, he says, "but with throats being cut outside Iraqi oil fields, with the no-fly zones being expanded." And, yes, it probably has already started: "I'd be a damn poor commander if I didn't have people on the ground right now." Special Operations forces are indeed already in Iraq, say American military analysts. They're identifying targets, jamming communications and trying to secure the oil fields before Iraqi troops are ordered to torch them as they did in Kuwait in 1991. ........the United States is risking the world's condemnation if Gulf War II isn't the swift, surgical, six-weeks-at-most operation it's speculated to be. As Rudd (David Rudd, executive director of the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies) says, echoing many others: "The number of variables is bewildering, just bewildering. I'm fearful of the whole venture."

    Feb 23 ~ "special teams to kill off the party's huge anti-war lobby..."

    ...A Labour source, hostile to the war but unwilling to be named, said: "If they were confident they were right, they wouldn't have to do this." See Independent on Sunday (external link)

    Feb 21 ~ "He said this time when the bombing starts he and his family will stay"

    The Baghdad Diaries of Dr. Scilla Elworthy of the Oxford Research Group, available on the internet at - http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0302/S00034.htm "..... Denis was greeted warmly by a man selling 1950s parker fountain pens who remembered him from 4 years ago, and a delighted carpet seller, who hailed him as Iraq's bravest friend and of course produced tea in little sherry schooners with masses of sugar. He said this time when the bombing starts he and his family will stay. In 1991 they left. They fear that this time chaos will come, and that if they are not there, their houses will be looted. They fear terrible blood-letting as people settle scores with members of the Ba-ath party.
    Over lunch we began our first strategy session. We agreed that all other rationales for military action (WMD, war on terror, regime change) are superfluous, the real reason is control of oil supplies, not only to the West, but also to the East. We discussed in depth a number of possibilities of tension reduction moves that could be made now by both sides.

    Feb 21 ~ "Blair was justifying war by referring to suffering in Iraq which his own government had denied for years." George Galloway

    "It's the unkindest cut of all for those of us who, for more than a decade, have been beating our heads against a brick wall of British government denial of the scale and nature of the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, to hear it now being used in aid of killing even more Iraqis from land, sea and air," he said. Reuters report (external link)

    Feb 21 ~ "Iraqis for War" have finally cottoned on to the US post-war plans - which will not include an independently run country.

    See today's Guardian: "The Bush administration is on a collision course with its closest allies in the Iraqi opposition over how the country should be run after the fall of Saddam Hussein, compounding the confusion now surrounding Washington's preparations for war. Guardian interviews with four of the seven leading opposition figures have revealed the depth of the rift between Washington and several of the main parties claiming to represent the Iraqi people. The split has overshadowed a much-delayed meeting in Irbil, northern Iraq, now slated for this weekend, which will bring together opposition leaders who have spent much of the past decade at loggerheads. It is hoped that the meeting will forge unity between the disparate groups. But their temporary reconciliation has come too late for the United States, which has given up hope of unifying the Iraqi exiles, and opted to run the country itself in the aftermath of the war. ..."

    Feb 21 ~ Tony Blair is now invoking the suffering of the Iraqi people to justify bombing them.

    See also from today's Guardian Iraqis will not be pawns in Bush and Blair's war game (external link) "..Having failed to convince the British people that war is justified, Tony Blair is now invoking the suffering of the Iraqi people to justify bombing them. He tells us there will be innocent civilian casualties, but that more will die if he and Bush do not go to war. Which dossier is he reading from? The present Iraqi regime's repressive practices have long been known, and its worst excesses took place 12 years ago, under the gaze of General Colin Powell's troops; 15 years ago, when Saddam was an Anglo-American ally; and almost 30 years ago, when Henry Kissinger cynically used Kurdish nationalism to further US power in the region at the expense of both Kurdish and Iraqi democratic aspirations. Killing and torture in Iraq is not random, but has long been directly linked to politics - and international politics at that. As from yesterday we stopped buying the Telegraph after one too many suggestions that Saturday's marchers were supporting Saddam

    Feb 21 ~ Weapons Error

    This page has been doing the rounds.(Do not adjust your set...)

    Feb 20 ~ Ministers must learn to respect their own human rights laws

    says today's Independent (external link) "The European Convention on Human Rights was incorporated into British law not for the benefit of government ministers but for the sake of those whose fundamental rights are being threatened by the actions of ministers. The ruling of the High Court yesterday in favour of six asylum-seekers who had had their claims for state benefits refused under Home Office rules was, predictably enough, immediately condemned by David Blunkett, and the Government will take the case to appeal.
    They are entitled to do that, but it bears repeating that a Human Rights Act is of no use at all if every time it runs foul of government policy it is ignored or reversed. In its short life the Human Rights Act has suffered one derogation under the Anti Terrorism Act, so that foreigners can be detained without trial. Recently the Prime Minister suggested that Britain might try to find a way of evading our international obligations to refugees. We can be sure that Mr Blunkett will do all that he can to overturn the perfectly correct decision made by the High Court yesterday. In the meantime, the Home Secretary will be making sure we all know how unhappy he is. Mr Blunkett's rhetoric deserves closer attention......" (more)

    Feb 19 ~ Sanctions of Mass Destruction

    5 We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral". - Denis Halliday, former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, October 1998
    "If people could hear and see what is being done in their names in Iraq, they would be outraged. But they don't, so it continues". - John Simpson, BBC World Affairs Editor, April 2000
    From Media Lens ".... Both Halliday and his successor Hans von Sponeck resigned from long careers with the UN insisting that Western sanctions policy was "genocidal" - resignations that were unprecedented in the UN at such a senior level - but the media almost completely ignored them. Last time we checked, Halliday, for example, had never been mentioned in the Observer.
    The Catholic Relief Agency, CAFOD, has described the sanctions as "humanly catastrophic, morally indefensible and politically ineffective. They are a failed policy and must be changed". (Milan Rai, War On Iraq, Verso, 2002, p.175)
    Human Rights Watch has said: "the continued imposition of comprehensive economic sanctions is undermining the basic rights of children and the civilian population generally" and "the [Security] Council must recognise that the sanctions have contributed in a major way to persistent life-threatening conditions in the country". (August 2000, www.viwuk.freeserve.co.uk)
    Seventy members of the US Congress signed a letter to President Clinton, appealing to him to lift the embargo and end what they called "infanticide masquerading as policy". (Quoted, Philadelphia Enquirer, April 1, 1999)

    Feb 19 ~ Suggested Action - write to the Media

    Mr Blair can make his outrageous case for a 'moral war' now because journalists have long ignored reports from groups like Save the Children Fund UK, which has described the economic sanctions against Iraq as "a silent war against Iraq's children". (Quoted, Voices in the Wilderness UK, March 2002: www.viwuk.freeserve.co.uk) As they explain "The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. In writing letters to journalists, we strongly urge readers to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone." and they follow this advice with a sample letter and a list of recipients to whom we might write.

    Feb 19 ~ a UN resolution demanding, among other things, the right for opposition parties to open offices inside Iraq. If the same pressure that is currently being applied to Baghdad on arms were transferred to freedom and democracy, it could bring results.

    says Jonathan Freedland in today's Guardian. And as someone who was far from impressed with the Hyde Park demogogues, I find that this article is full of sense. ".... Tariq Ali spoke of "strengthening the people" on Saturday, but we will have to do better than that. We need to start coming up with detailed, fleshed-out ideas that might work.
    One approach would be to use this moment of pressure - admittedly brought about by the threat of war - to demand Saddam not only give up his armoury but also open up his society. The UN could demand that Hans Blix's team be joined by a squad of "human rights inspectors", keeping tabs on, say, the fate of political prisoners. That finds favour with Mary Kaldor, a leading light in the 1980s anti-nuclear movement, who has published a long list of ideas on the open Democracy website - openDemocracy . Her objective: to open a few cracks in the Iraqi frost that might lead to the home-grown, peaceful regime change that eventually came to eastern Europe. She imagines a UN resolution demanding, among other things, the right for opposition parties to open offices inside Iraq. If the same pressure that is currently being applied to Baghdad on arms were transferred to freedom and democracy, it could bring results. ...."

    Feb 19 ~ level headed, non-paranoid review of the evidence that control of Iraq's oil is indeed central to Bush's policy.

    Dr Richard Lawson of the Green Party says, " This link http://www.corpwatch.org/issues/PID.jsp?articleid=5529 gives a level headed, non-paranoid review of the evidence that control of Iraq's oil is indeed central to Bush's policy. It deserves to be widely circulated, especially among MPs and journalists.

    Feb 19 ~ Tony Blair criticised yesterday for selectively quoting from those Iraqis who share his views while ignoring other exiles who have written to No 10 opposing war.

    "....Iraqi exiles anti-war letter said that although many of the exiles had personally experienced persecution by President Saddam's regime, "the remedy must not cause greater damage to the innocent and to society at large". Haifa Zangana, an Iraqi novelist who signed the letter and joined Saturday's anti-war march, said: "The range of Iraqi views is so wide, so different."
    She said that it was not just the Iraqi left who opposed a US-led war. "If you read the list of names in our statement - some are Muslims, some are atheists, some are Arab nationalists." See Guardian article

    Feb 18 ~ blood is a renewable resource; oil is not.

    George Monbiot's latest article concludes:"Strategic thinkers in the US have been planning this next stage of expansion for years. Paul Wolfowitz, now deputy secretary for defence, was writing about the need to invade Iraq in the mid-1990s. The impending war will not be fought over terrorism, anthrax, VX gas, Saddam Hussein, democracy or the treatment of the Iraqi people. It is, like almost all such enterprises, about the control of territory, resources and other nations' economies. Those who are planning it have recognised that their future dominance can be sustained by means of a simple economic formula: blood is a renewable resource; oil is not."

    Feb 18 ~ " The FMD tragedy changed this townsperson's perception of Blair and the cabinet forever."

    "No mendacity surprises me now- nor arrogance either. How could i respect- or barely tolerate- a Prime Minister who allowed Margaret Beckett to say that the handling of the tragedy had been a minor triumph? How could I possibly trust people who allowed millions of animals to be slaughtered in their incompetent, arrogant panic and rush for the election? How could you possibly trust anyone with such little regard for life?" Judith's email reflects what many have been saying now for a long time.

    Feb 18 ~"a turning point in U.S. foreign policy and possibly a turning point in the recent history of the world," says Senator Byrd.

    " This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption -- the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future -- is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense. It appears to be in contravention of international law and the UN Charter. And it is being tested at a time of world-wide terrorism, making many countries around the globe wonder if they will soon be on our -- or some other nation's -- hit list. High level Administration figures recently refused to take nuclear weapons off of the table when discussing a possible attack against Iraq. What could be more destabilizing and unwise than this type of uncertainty, particularly in a world where globalism has tied the vital economic and security interests of many nations so closely together? There are huge cracks emerging in our time-honored alliances, and U.S. intentions are suddenly subject to damaging worldwide speculation. ...we hear little about the aftermath of war in Iraq. In the absence of plans, speculation abroad is rife. Will we seize Iraq's oil fields, becoming an occupying power which controls the price and supply of that nation's oil for the foreseeable future?...I truly must question the judgment of any President who can say that a massive unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over 50% children is "in the highest moral traditions of our country". This war is not necessary at this time. ." Read the speech

    Feb 18 ~ EU Thought Police to England's green and formerly pleasant land.

    We are filled with foreboding today by an article in the Telegraph ( Britons face extradition for 'thought crime' on net By Philip Johnston) about the new European arrest warrant and remember a former article in November : "critics suspect that this is to allow for a future designation of Europol officers as part of EU moves towards a common judicial area.
    Leolin Price, QC, an expert on European constitutional law, said: "Arrest for deportation without the general protection of extradition procedures is an alarming novelty in this country. If it were to be made by an officer of the member state where the warrant is issued, the novelty and the alarm would be worse." He added: "It is difficult to see why the Home Secretary should have an open-ended discretion to specify 'appropriate persons'. He should tell us . . . who are to be his 'appropriate persons' to make these extraordinary new arrests.....Earlier this year, Lord Scott, a law lord, said the definition of a xenophobia offence "would almost certainly cover the distribution of Biggles and probably the Old Testament". (article last November)

    Feb 18 ~"The rift between Tony Blair and the British public over war against Iraq is today confirmed

    by an opinion poll which shows for the first time that a clear majority of British voters now oppose a military attack. Guardian The survey, taken over the weekend, reveals that Mr Blair has sustained significant political damage from the debate over Iraq. His personal rating has dropped through the floor to minus 20 points, the lowest level since the petrol crisis two and a half years ago. This month's Guardian/ICM poll also shows that at least one person from 1.25 million households in Britain went on Saturday's anti-war march in London, confirming estimates that between one million and two million people went on the march. ..."

    Feb 18 ~ "Can someone please explain how a mobile early-warning radar can be "a threat to coalition aircraft"? Other than detecting them of course....."

    writes a puzzled emailer, after seeing this Reuters report Warplanes swoop again on Iraq "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Aircraft taking part in U.S.-British patrols over Iraqi "no-fly" zones have attacked an Iraqi air defence radar, in the seventh strike in 10 days, the U.S. military says. ...... "The coalition executed today's strike after Iraqi forces moved the mobile radar into the southern no-fly zone where it was a threat to coalition aircraft," Central Command said in a news release. U.S. and British jets have been increasingly attacking air defence missiles, radar and communications in Iraq's northern and southern no-fly zones over the past several months. Both the United States and Britain have massed forces in the Gulf region for a possible invasion of Iraq...."

    Feb 18 ~ "we're not talking crazed "radical" elements, but students, elderly women, families and assorted peace-loving others.

    Never again will I nod my head in assent when someone brings up that old, "how can only three guards with machine guns hold back three thousand prisoners in Auschwitz?" Same way five or six cops with Glock 9mms on each street kept away thousands of protesters in NYC, Saturday, February 15, 2003. ....I went to the rally thinking of the horrible fate of the Iraqi people and wondering if anything could be done to change it. I came away thinking of the horrible fate of the American people, and wondering if anything can be done to change it. " CounterPunch

    Feb 17/18 ~ Last night Rory Bremner mentioned a letter written 5 years ago by the Project for the New American Century, giving reasons why Iraq should be attacked. The signatories are those now in the US government.

    See John Pilger in December 2002 "... The Project for the New American Century was formed, along with the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute and others that have since merged the ambitions of the Reagan administration with those of the current Bush regime.
    One of George W Bush's "thinkers" is Richard Perle. I interviewed Perle when he was advising Reagan; and when he spoke about "total war", I mistakenly dismissed him as mad. He recently used the term again in describing America's "war on terror". "No stages," he said. "This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq... this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war... our children will sing great songs about us years from now."

    Feb 17/18~ Here are the letters - written in January and May 1998 by those who now surround the President - referred to by Rory Bremner and Co:

    Extract:"... if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world's supply of oil will all be put at hazard. .....Our friends and allies in the Middle East and Europe will soon be subject to forms of intimidation by an Iraqi government bent on dominating the Middle East and its oil reserves.....We should establish and maintain a strong U.S. military presence in the region, and be prepared to use that force to protect our vital interests in the Gulf - and, if necessary, to help remove Saddam from power Although the Clinton Administration's handling of the crisis with Iraq has left Saddam Hussein in a stronger position that when the crisis began, the reality is that his regime remains vulnerable to the exercise of American political and military power...."

    Feb 17/18 ~ In 1999 inspectors were withdrawn - not thrown out

    From Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting "...Back in 1999, major papers ran front-page investigative stories revealing that the CIA had covertly used U.N. weapons inspectors to spy on Iraq for the U.S.'s own intelligence purposes. "United States officials said today that American spies had worked undercover on teams of United Nations arms inspectors," the New York Times reported (1/7/99). According to the Washington Post (3/2/99), the U.S. "infiltrated agents and espionage equipment for three years into United Nations arms control teams in Iraq to eavesdrop on the Iraqi military without the knowledge of the U.N. agency." Undercover U.S. agents "carried out an ambitious spying operation designed to penetrate Iraq's intelligence apparatus and track the movement of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, according to U.S. and U.N. sources," wrote the Boston Globe (1/6/99). Each of the three news stories ran on the papers' front pages. At first, U.S. officials tried to deny them, but as more details emerged, "spokesmen for the CIA, Pentagon, White House and State Department declined to repeat any categorical denials" (Washington Post, 3/2/99). By the spring of 1999, the UNSCOM spying reported by the papers was accepted as fact by other outlets..."

    Feb 17 ~ Their master's voice

    From today's Guardian "Rupert Murdoch argued strongly for a war with Iraq in an interview this week. Which might explain why his 175 editors around the world are backing it too, writes Roy Greenslade .......
      After an exhaustive survey of the highest-selling and most influential papers across the world owned by Murdoch's News Corporation, it is clear that all are singing from the same hymn sheet. Some are bellicose baritone soloists who relish the fight. Some prefer a less strident, if more subtle, role in the chorus. But none, whether fortissimo or pianissimo, has dared to croon the anti-war tune. Their master's voice has never been questioned. Murdoch is chairman and chief executive of News Corp which owns more than 175 titles on three continents, publishes 40 million papers a week and dominates the newspaper markets in Britain, Australia and New Zealand. His television reach is greater still, but broadcasting - even when less regulated than in Britain - is not so plainly partisan. It is newspapers which set the agenda.......In London, the Times and the Sunday Times have left none of their readers in two minds about their pro-war sentiments, despite the overwhelming popular opposition to war. It is fascinating to note that papers which acknowledge that the British people's distaste for war is partially due to anti-Americanism are trying to change their minds by appealing to an older form of prejudice, Francophobia."
    This accounts for the current spate of anti French jokes repeated by the country's Sun readers. We find the Murdoch connection in all this deeply chilling.

    Feb 17 ~ Spin from the Scotsman

    Many will share our disappointment at the Scotsman's pro-war stance. Today sees an article boldly entitled Millions on march fail to sway Blair (external link)
    Tim Cornwell's evidence for such a claim would seem to consist of the following:
    "John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, urged Labour members to rally round a leader who he said had earned their trust through his sound judgment in crises over Sierra Leone, Kosovo and Afghanistan."
    and
    "President George Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said Washington was considering tabling a new resolution threatening Iraq with the use of force, but made clear its patience with the UN was running out. "Continuing to talk about more time and more time and more time is simply going to relieve pressures on the Iraqis to do what they must do," she added. "
    The Scotsman refers to this as "emphatic backing" for Mr Blair. Similarly, their article Mass protest fails to shake Blair's resolve (external link) has no evidence to support the implication in the headline except for the vague phrase "senior Cabinet members rallied behind Mr Blair over his stance on Iraq". If empty rhetoric from John Prescott is all that can be put in the balance against the heartfelt efforts of hundreds of thousands of English and Scots peace marchers, the headlines make no sense at all - except as propaganda. The Scotsman ought to know better.

    Feb 17 ~ "Has anyone written about a connection between what is happening now and the experience during the FMD epidemic?"

    asks a much respected emailer this morning. "That must have conditioned many people to question and challenge the government when it was so clear that common sense, expert advice, and moral arguments were ignored by those who they had previously trusted. Isn't it curious that the government then bowed to the uninformed opinion of a pressure group (NFU) rather than informed expert advice? They continue to do so - with the whole animal disease control consultation process aimed at soliciting comment but not taking the steps to provide for an informed choice. Yet now they will not bow to any opinion or advice, informed or uninformed, because they believe they either have the moral high ground or secret information.
    When I watched these people marching for the first time, I kept thinking that, now even, many townspeople should be able to understand what it was like for us."

    Feb 17 ~ One town's experience of the Feb 15 London March -

    "a significant statement" "...And what did it feel like to be part of such a huge mass of people all facing in the same direction, most walking in silence until one of the spontaneous waves of roaring lifted everyone into a sound so overwhelming it seemed to surge through the blood? .. It felt as though what was being created by this mass of people was a significant statement that hardly needed words. What we were saying by our simple presence was clear and obvious - the horror and pain of war makes no sense in any way and to embark upon war without the backing of the very organisation put in place by the sane - the United Nations Organisation - would be utterly insane. A route to Hyde Park that would take a fit walker about 15 minutes, took the marchers two and a half hours. The British don't like to be harangued and it was interesting that those speakers who were shouting aggressively soon lost the interest of the crowd. (What on earth did such speakers think we were there for?) The atmosphere among the marchers seemed wholly peaceful and friendly. Even the placards showed more good nature than moral outrage. The worst I saw about our poor benighted leaders were "Blair - don't be a bushbaby!" and the laconic "Son of a Bush..." But others made one smile. "Make TEA not WAR" proclaimed a poster showing Tony Blair carrying a rifle with a huge teacup on his head "Give Peas a Chance! Gardeners against the war!" , "No IRAC No Phobia!" for those, presumably, who dislike spiders, and the irrefutable "War is Silly"
    The 3400 policemen on duty around the march route were a restrained presence - and, it seemed to us, rather unnecessary...."

    Feb 17 ~ "Charles Kennedy won loud applause for stating that 'The report from Hans Blix gives no moral case for war on Iraq';

    George Galloway won both applause and laughter for suggesting a new slogan: 'Don't attack Chirac'. Mo Mowlam warned: 'We will lose this war. It will be the best recruiting campaign for terrorists that there could be. They will hate us even more.' Will yesterday, astonishing yesterday, change anything? The facts are undeniable. Perception is all.
    If you look more carefully, in fact, at the warlike Wellington statue, a new tale emerges. The driver of the chariot is a boy. The reins are slack. The horses are not rearing with anger, but pulling up in mid-charge. Behind, the fierce, all-powerful figure is not the Spirit of War but the angel of peace, carrying an olive branch. " Yesterday's Observer One million. And still they came by Euan Ferguson

    Feb 17 ~ ".. war seems a very odd choice."

    writes Sir Timothy Garden in Why the rush to attack a spent force? in today's Times. Sir Timothy is visiting professor at the Centre for Defence Studies, King's College London. As an Air Marshal he was Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies, and subsequently director of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

    Feb 17 ~ "..those very courageous Jewish American groups who so bravely oppose this madness have been the first to point out how pro-Israeli organisations foresee Iraq not only as a new source of oil but of water, too;

    why should canals not link the Tigris river to the parched Levant? No wonder, then, that any discussion of this topic must be censored, as Professor Eliot Cohen, of Johns Hopkins University, tried to do in the Wall Street Journal the day after Powell's UN speech. Cohen suggested that European nations' objections to the war might - yet again - be ascribed to "anti-Semitism of a type long thought dead in the West, a loathing that ascribes to Jews a malignant intent."
    This nonsense, it must be said, is opposed by many Israeli intellectuals who, like Uri Avnery, argue that an Iraq war will leave Israel with even more Arab enemies, especially if Iraq attacks Israel and Sharon then joins the US battle against the Arabs.
    The slur of "anti-Semitism" also lies behind Rumsfeld's snotty remarks about "old Europe". He was talking about the "old" Germany of Nazism and the "old" France of collaboration. But the France and Germany that oppose this war are the "new" Europe, the continent which refuses, ever again, to slaughter the innocent. It is Rumsfeld and Bush who represent the "old" America; not the "new" America of freedom, the America of F D Roosevelt. Rumsfeld and Bush symbolise the old America that killed its native Indians and embarked on imperial adventures. It is "old" America we are being asked to fight for - linked to a new form of colonialism - an America that first threatens the United Nations with irrelevancy and then does the same to Nato. This is not the last chance for the UN, nor for Nato. But it may well be the last chance for America to be taken seriously by her friends as well as her enemies...." Robert Fisk in Saturday's Independent.

    Feb 17 ~ "What we do not have - unless our MPs are prepared to provide it - is a group of men and women dedicated to telling the world, and their own Government, what the people of the United Kingdom think."

    "Parliament ought to be Tony Blair's biggest, noisiest and most trusted focus group. If it is muted, if it gags itself or allows itself to be gagged, then marches and demonstrations like today's will have to take its place. They may be crude - even ugly - affairs, they will do a great deal of damage to the turf in our Royal Parks, and their messages will be blurred, ragged and confused; but they will be all we have.
    They are all we have. Hyde Park today is glory to the persistence of democracy, and a disgrace to the House of Commons. The inimitable Matthew Parris in Sunday Times

    Feb 17 ~ Almost exactly seven years ago, in 1996, the Scott Inquiry into the arms-to-Iraq affair found that government ministers had misled Parliament by secretly relaxing an arms embargo.

    Feb 14 ~ "Today, after 13 years of an economic blockade that has been compared with a medieval siege, Iraq is defenceless, no matter the discovery of an odd missile that can reach barely 90 miles.

    Its ragtag army is woefully under-equipped and awaiting its fate, along with a civilian population of whom 42 per cent are children. They are stricken. Even the export of British manufactured vaccines meant to protect Iraqi infants from diphtheria and yellow fever has been restricted. The vaccines, say the Blair government, are "capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction". This is the nation upon which the Bush gang says it will rain down 800 missiles within the space of two days. "Shock and awe" the Pentagon calls its "strategy". ..." Read John Pilger today on ITV.com " It is not possible to overstate the significance and urgency of the march and demonstration against an unprovoked British and American attack on Iraq, a nation with whom we have no quarrel and who offer us no threat. : John Pilger :14 Feb 2003"
    "....American public opinion, now stirring heroically after the most sustained brainwashing campaign for half a century, may even stop the Bush gang in its tracks. As of yesterday 42 American cities had passed resolutions condemning an attack.
    Is all that a cause for optimism? Yes it is. Look at how this week's French and German "rebellion" almost seemed to change everything; and remember that those governments are speaking out only because of overwhelming pressure from their people.
    Now that has to happen in Britain. Tomorrow you can begin to make it happen."

    Feb 14 ~ "Reading in yesterday's Guardian about 'how scared are you' set me thinking that what would scare me, in the event of war..."

    writes an emailer today. "...what would scare me, in the event of war, God forbid, would be this government and their 'react now - think later' approach which made such an almighty cock-up of F&M. I'm off to London to try to see Dürer's drawings before the march. Yes, I also hate marching, but the Government seem determined to bury their heads to the huge public opposition. .."

    Feb 14 ~ Mr Blair was in effect rejecting ethics and substituting relativity. In place of a moral precept he offered a league table.

    Simon Jenkins in the Times is always worth reading closely. This article is a salutary lesson for those of us who tend towards pontification instead of argument: "Shut away the ethicists," says Mr Jenkins, "Meet grim reality unencumbered." "..... How many people would sanctions and containment kill compared with his quick-fix of bombs and tanks? As treason is said to be a matter of dates, so the ethics of war is a matter of body-counts." Read article

    Feb 14 ~ 96 per cent response against war in a recent poll in the WMN.

    "Between 81 and 90 per cent nationally of people in every opinion poll that's been taken are recording their opposition to an attack on Iraq. I'm pleasantly surprised that here in the Westcountry you've got an even higher proportion of people who are showing common sense and saying 'we don't want this murder and we don't want this devastation on our conscience'. "Blair is deliberately ignoring the feeling of the British people, despite all the protestations about wanting to act in accordance with democracy, and he's doing exactly the opposite." See Western Morning News (external link)

    Feb 14 ~ There is not a single verifiable fact.

    See WsWS.org (external link) "... The Bush administration, together with the government of Tony Blair in Britain, has over the past week launched a concerted campaign to sow fear and terror among the American and British people in an effort to overcome widespread opposition to the impending invasion of Iraq. Following the Homeland Security Department's declaration of a 'code orange' terror alert in the US, humvees mounted with anti-aircraft batteries have been deployed in the shadows of the Washington Monument and the US Capitol, while machine-gun toting SWAT teams have been sent into the streets of New York City. In London, tanks and combat troops are patrolling Heathrow Airport.
    Why has 'code orange', signifying a 'high' threat of terrorist attacks, been declared? No US official has offered a specific or credible reason. Vague references are made to 'increased chatter' overheard by intelligence agencies, the end of the Haj in Mecca, etc. There is not a single verifiable fact...."

    Feb 14 ~"Bush needs a terrorist attack, so there will be one."

    We don't at all like the style of this article from CounterPunch (external link) - but we can only agree with its conclusions:
      " Ridge told reporters the other day the terrorism alert issued last week is "the most significant" since 911. "The threat is real," he warned.
      Yeah, right.
      I'm not rushing out to the store. I'm not buying into Bush's propaganda war. I don't think al-Qaeda is capable of launching a chemical or biological assault of any measurable significance against America. In fact, I don't think al-Qaeda is anywhere near as organized and ominous as Bush and Ridge and the corporate media keep telling us it is. It's nothing more than a terrifying and mostly imaginary monster used to frighten the people into acquiescence.
      Are there pissed off Muslims who'd kill Americans if given half the chance?
      You bet. ...........
      Now don't get me wrong. I think there's a good chance there will be some kind of "terrorist" attack in the near future.
      Bush needs a terrorist attack, so there will be one....".(more)
      Precedent? ".... National Security Archive's website and search for "Operation Northwoods." It will return a formerly top secret document titled "Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba." It was cobbled together by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.... "

    Feb 14 ~ Fake attacks have been planned before

    One example from the Operation Northwoods document. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and President Kennedy vetoed the idea. Would the present US administration?
      "...It is possible to create an incident which will make it appear that Communist Cuban MIGs have destroyed a USAF aircraft over international waters in an unprovoked attack....a. Approximately 4 of 5 F-101 aircraft will be dispatched in trail from Homestead AFB, Florida, to the vicinity of Cuba. Their mission will be to reverse course and simulate fakir aircraft for an air defense exercise in southern Florida. These aircraft would conduct variations of these flights at frequent intervals. Crews would be briefed to remain at least 12 miles off the Cuban coast; however, they would be required to carry live ammunition in the event that hostile actions were taken by the Cuban MIGs.
      b. On one such flight, a pre-briefed pilot would fly tail-end Charley at considerable interval between aircraft. While near the Cuban Island this pilot would broadcast that he had been jumped by MIGs and was going down. No other calls would be made. The pilot would then fly directly west at extremely low altitude and land at a secure base, an Eglin auxiliary. The aircraft would be met by the proper people, quickly stored and given a new tail number. The pilot who had performed the mission under an alias, would resume his proper identity and return to his normal place of business. The pilot and aircraft would then have disappeared.
      c. At precisely the same time that the aircraft was presumably shot down a submarine or small surface craft would disburse F-101 parts, parachute, etc., at approximately 15 to 20 miles off the Cuban coast and depart. The pilots retuning to Homestead would have a true story as far as they knew. Search ships and aircraft could be dispatched and parts of aircraft found. "
    See MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE Subject: Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba

    Feb 13 ~ "In 1998, Denis Halliday, the first coordinator of humanitarian relief in Iraq, resigned after 34 years of service with the UN."

    After Mr Blair's stupendously silly bluster about morality and sanctions in the House of Commons yesterday - as if the continuing infanticide of sanctions were the only alternative to war - we offer the following articles Halliday stated:
      I have been instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults. What is clear is that the Security Council is now out of control, for its actions here undermine its own Charter, and the Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention. History will slaughter those responsible.
    Halliday's replacement, Hans von Sponeck, also resigned in 2000. "How long," he asked, "should the civilian population of Iraq be exposed to such punishment for something they have never done?"

    Feb 13 ~ BBC bans news stars from anti-war march

    Jason DeansTuesday February 11, 2003 "Senior BBC news presenters such as Huw Edwards and Fiona Bruce and journalists including Andrew Marr have been ordered by bosses to stay away from Saturday's anti-war march in London. The BBC deputy director of news, Mark Damazer, yesterday sent an email to newsroom staff listing which categories of journalist should not attend the march and rally in Hyde Park. These include all presenters, correspondents, editors, output editors and "anyone who can be considered a 'gatekeeper' of our output". ...." Guardian (external link)

    Feb 13 ~ Backlash against war

    Today's Times "London ready for huge protest as opposition grows" By Tom Baldwin, Ben Hoyle and Ruth Gledhill
      "Dozens of Labour MPs are expected to join a large anti-war demonstration on Saturday amid mounting evidence that the impending war on Iraq is provoking a backlash among the Government's own supporters. Up to 40 backbenchers are expected to take part in a protest that is likely to be the largest of its kind in the capital in recent years. All police leave has been cancelled after senior Scotland Yard officers predicted that up to 500,000 people will head for Hyde Park to demonstrate against war. ...."
    This is likely to be exceeded. TEN coaches from one single rural area reported. Never before have so many ordinary people felt so strongly that they are being hoodwinked into an unnecessary and disgraceful war. As one email read on the internet today says, "...I would happily disembowel Saddam Hussein in retribution for the Socialists and Communists butchered on his orders to the applause of the same people now planning war on the people of Iraq. Iraq, even under Saddam, is the most tolerant country of the Middle East, with Christian Ministers and a Vice President in its Government, the ideology of the B'aath Party being conceived by an Iraq Christian, denounced by Osama bin Laden as non-Islamic. Iraq is the most likely country of the Middle East to develop a genuine democracy. Is this what Bush and the oil barons fear? Would such an example not be contagious, leading to the overthrow of the corrupt tyrannies who do Uncle Sam's will?"

    Feb 13 ~ "Pregnant women, malnourished children, and the elderly will be the first to succumb"

    An important eye-witness account of conditions in Iraq "... a cruise missile will strike Iraq every five minutes for the first 48 hours the war. These missiles will seek out military, intelligence, and security-force targets around highly populated areas like Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul, Iraq's largest cities, where "collateral damage" is unavoidable. Unable to meet the acute medical needs of the country's population now, the health care system of Iraq will be overwhelmed by such an assault.
    ....... I have worked in war zones before and I have been with civilians as they were bombed by U.S.-supplied aircraft, but I don't think I've experienced anything on the magnitude of the catastrophe that awaits our attack in Iraq. Still, as deeply troubling as this looming human disaster is, another issue troubles me far more. If the U.S. pursues this war without the backing of the U.N. Security Council, it will undermine a half-century of efforts by the world community to establish a foundation of humanitarian and human rights law. ..." More

    Feb 12/13 ~ "Why do we have endless debates about whether to kill foxes, but no debate on whether to kill people?" he asked. Mr Blair told him he saw "no reason" to change. ...

    Guardian today ".....The prime minister's war-making powers come from the royal prerogative, an arcane authority which allows government to bypass parliament on many major issues. In theory the Queen is the source of prerogative power, but the doctrine has long been a constitutional figleaf disguising the actual exercise of the powers by the prime minister.
    The power of patronage - which ranges from the creation of life peers, the appointment of the chair of the BBC governors and the award of honours to senior civil servants to individual ministers' rights to appoint thousands of members of quangos - will also be examined by the committee."

    Feb 12/13 ~ Go to it

    ".... this week I have suffered twice from the familiar combination of BBIV (blood boiling with indignation in my veins) and HUIN (hair standing up at the back of my neck) out of a sense of shame for my country and its government."
    Read Paul Foot in Wednesday's Guardian
    "..Tory and Labour leaders cling together to proclaim the most fantastic and monstrous proposition that before we even have any proof of these weapons of mass destruction or the likelihood of their use, the most powerful armed forces in the world should unleash an attack on one of weakest and most defenceless countries on earth.....It seems suddenly that everyone is interested; everyone except Julie Burchill and Ian Duncan Smith is shocked and everyone wants to do something about it. On Saturday, the cliché will become the truth.
    The eyes and ears of the world will be fixed on the London streets and on Hyde Park. The size and fury of the demonstration will have an impact on real events the like of which I have not experienced in a lifetime of protest. Hyde Park will once again host a demonstration, like that of the Reform League in 1867 or the suffragettes in 1908, that can change the whole course of politics. Go to it. "

    Feb 12/13 ~ "No specific intelligence of any threat to the airport or anywhere else in the region...."

    "....Mr Livingstone said he had been told of a "potential threat" to Heathrow airport "some weeks if not months ago". Armed officers from Greater Manchester police today carried out spotchecks at Manchester airport to "reassure the public that every possible step is being taken." However, chief inspector Martin Gaffney said that military personnel would not be deployed as there was no specific intelligence of any threat to the airport or anywhere else in the region.
    See theGuardian
    "Mr Reid denied that the deployment was an over the top reaction to the threat of a war in Iraq...."
    Mr John Reid, Labour party chairman, is not taking seriously our disbelief, it seems. However, if he thinks we are calling it a "game" he is much mistaken. No, Mr Reid. We are calling it by a very much more serious name than that.

    Feb 12/13 ~ "Do they think we are stupid?"

    "Possibly upwards of one million people will be marching through London on Saturday (and many 100,000's more around the country) so they try to scare us with a terrorist alert?! If you were a terrorist would you attack a country whose population was mobilising itself in support of those threatened by Bush and Blair?!!
    This is going beyond laughable.
    Blair is making our country the laughing stock of the world."
    (email received )

    Feb 12 ~ "I am sitting here in front of my computer logged into the wonderful internet almost in tears, feeling I could burst, as I read the list of 306 cities around the Globe (including Antartica!) who will be demonstrating on the 15th."

    writes an emailer. "(This figure does not include all the small demos, such as at Hereford, that are also happening that day) see http://unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=725 Would we stop the World in its tracks if we all shouted NO! at the same time?" LATER (same emailer) Re. the "306 cities demonstrating around the world" it's now 354! and I've added Hereford (but I am sure there are many more not on the list). How can they not listen to us?"
    As Noam Chomsky says in this splendidly simple idea -"the Rice Solution" - making its way around the address books of the internet, " I can't think of another case where there was large scale protest to a war before it started. Nothing like that during the Vietnam years. Protest over the Vietnam War came after four to five years. There is unprecedented opposition -- UK and US policy analysts are keeping their eyes open to it, and if it grows even more, they'll be concerned. In fact, some of the high level hawkish arguments against the war is that too much divisiveness will be created inside the UK and US. That's a concern -- No matter who you are, you are going to be concerned about popular opinion." (More)

    Feb 12 ~ Blair "acting upon serious intelligence information" when he ordered the British Army in to Heathrow Airport today?

    If he was: why were Gatwick, Luton, Manchester and Glasgow left unprotected?
    More window dressing - in itself far more worrying than any bugbear. And see also a far from amusing spoof on Bush's entourage from CounterPunch (external link) Extract: "....KARL ROVE: I'm afraid we may need some real fireworks to get this war going. We can't pull this off without the Brits and they're about to kick Blair into the sea. We need to arrange a few terror bombs over there. Maybe the Parliament. Or a couple of schools. Blair needs some face time with some dead bodies. Just make sure they don't think it's the IRA again..."

    Feb 12 ~ there is still hope

    "It seems all too likely that this war is going to happen, probably in a few weeks time but there is still hope. This is why I will be marching on Saturday and urge as many people as possible to join us." ex-colonel Kevin Cranston.

    Feb 12 ~ Ex-colonel points to service opposition to Blair-Bush war

    Kevin Cranston, a former colonel who organised helicopter support for the British army in the 1991 Gulf war and now the Green Party's military policy advisor, has drawn attention to unrest amongst British service personnel about the impending "unjustified, futile and counter-productive" attack on Iraq.
    Kevin Cranston said today: "The use of British troops in a futile act of aggression the like of which has not been seen since Suez and the colonial wars at the start of the 20th Century is undermining morale and changing the ethos of the British army. "Tony Blair is pushing for a war which three-quarters or more of the UK population oppose. In 1991 there was support from across the Middle East, now there is virtually none. Saddam is not a threat to Britain, either in military terms or as a terrorist. Since the Gulf War he hasn't been able to re-equip his forces and there is no way he could invade anyone else. An attack would be immoral."
    "A lot of soldiers are deeply concerned about the current situation. They joined to defend Britain, not to mount unjustified attacks on other countries." (message from the Green Party)

    Feb 12 ~ Tony Blair proclaimed that the impending invasion of Iraq "has nothing to do with oil, or any of the other conspiracy theories put forward."

    CommonDreams org. "In a widely reported January 16 speech, Tony Blair proclaimed that the impending invasion of Iraq "has nothing to do with oil, or any of the other conspiracy theories put forward." One week later, Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, quietly passed word to Russia and France that their countries will be frozen out of staggeringly lucrative postwar oil contracts unless they roll over and endorse the US attack.
    Yes, Tony, there is a conspiracy, in the dictionary sense of the term: an agreement among people to perform a criminal or wrongful act. It consists, not of a tiny cabal, but of the whole of the American power elite, from politicians to business executives to journalists. It has everything to do with oil. But it is not secret.
    The conspirators know they can count on the uncritical support of the mass media. Therefore knowledge of their cynical motives and thuggish tactics can be made available in journals and other specialized fora, all but invisible to most Americans but accessible to the few with sufficient time and inclination to dig beneath the headlines. ...."

    Feb 12 ~ both the Iraqi and British peoples were once again let down by the BBC.

    Medialens.org ".....Where Iraq is concerned, Blair is the Bush administration's key ally - he is playing a central role in making war possible. Lack of British public support might just stop him and so might just stop Bush. The BBC's interview, therefore, was of critical importance. One might think that the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people facing death by incineration in the next few weeks at least deserve an incisive and vigorous attempt at challenging Blair. One might think that they at least deserve that the basic facts, the readily accessible evidence and the most obvious counter-arguments be presented.
    Well, they got next to nothing of these - both the Iraqi and British peoples were once again let down by the BBC."

    Feb 12 ~ "Before the last Stop the War demo, I felt uneasy about telling my friends I was going on it. This time my attitude is, if they're not on it I shan't speak to the fuc*ers for two years"

    See the advice for " those taking their first steps on the long road to freedom" from yesterday's Independent.
    "....For most people, Blair and Bush have simply lost the argument. Despite being in a hole, these two politicians can't stop digging. Every piece of compelling new evidence for the necessity of war turns out to be even more ludicrous than the last, so we've now arrived at plagiarised student theses and crackly intercepted phone calls that couldn't secure a conviction for possession of dope. And this to justify chucking around the armed might of the greatest superpower the world has known, the equivalent of a Bali bombing every night for as long as it takes. All this will be carried out in the name of human rights and democracy by the power that destroyed both in Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Indonesia. It will be in the name of ridding the world of chemical weapons, by the power that spread napalm and Agent Orange across half a continent. It will be to rid the world of a dictator who gassed his own people and invaded Iran, when those acts could only have been carried out with the backing of the superpower in the first place.
    Robert Del Naja of the pop group Massive Attack said last week: "Before the last Stop the War demo, I felt uneasy about telling my friends I was going on it. This time my attitude is, if they're not on it I shan't speak to the fuc*ers for two years."

    Feb 12 ~ DEPLETED URANIUM

    It's dirty, and it's deadly.
    When you coat a shell with it, it slices through armoured plating as if it was cheese, turning tanks, buildings and bomb shelters into exploding incinerators.
    It causes cancer among people who breathe its dust, or touch it.
    It causes horrible birth defects among the babies of pregnant women who breathe it or touch it.
    It causes a host of chronic ailments and sicknesses among returning troops.
    It was used by the US army in Iraq, in Kosovo, and Afghanistan.
    The United Nations wants a worldwide ban on it.
    The US plans to use it again, in its war on Iraq...
    "Many of us have seen the heart-wrenching pictures of deformity and death in Iraq, and know of the growing cancer wards in Bosnia and Kosova, not to mention the 80,000 American, 15,000 Canadian and thousands of British, Australian, French and other troops who are suffering a painful existence from Gulf War Syndrome plus the growing number suffering from a Balkans equivalent. ..." ..(see more on depleted uranium and Gulf War syndrome )

    Feb 10 ~" I find this plagiarism unforgivable and so indicative of our less than truthful government."

    "Asked whether Downing Street was embarrassed about the affair, the spokesman said: "We all have lessons to learn." The Mirror yesterday:
    ....... Mr Boyne, who works for military magazine Jane's Intelligence Review, said he was shocked his work had been used in the Government's dossier. Articles he wrote in 1997 were plagiarized for a 19-page intelligence document entitled Iraq: Its Infrastructure Of Concealment, Deception And Intimidation to add weight to the PM's warmongering. He said: "I don't like to think that anything I wrote has been used for an argument for war. I am concerned because I am against the war." ........
    It emerged the PA to Mr Blair's spin chief Alastair Campbell was involved in drawing up the dossier which was published last month. Alison Blackshaw and a Government press officer were both named on the dossier when it was first put on the Government's website. But the names were later removed.
    The bulk of the Government's document is directly copied, without acknowledgement, from Ibrahim's 5,000-word thesis - Iraq's Security and Intelligence Network - published last September.
    He did not even know the dossier existed until Glen Rangwala, a Cambridge-based Iraq analyst, spotted the plagiarism and called him.
    Mr al-Marashi and Mr Boyne said their figures had been altered in the Government document.
    Former Labour Defense Minister MP Peter Kilfoyle said: "It just adds to the general impression that what we have been treated to is a farrago of half-truths. "I am shocked that on such thin evidence that we should be trying to convince the British people that this is a war worth fighting." ..."

    Feb 10 ~... It is unwise for modern democracies to go to war without the broad support of their populations.

    (Today's Independent) The US, above all, should know that. The effect on troop morale of popular opposition to war in Vietnam was debilitating. Mr Blair knows how dangerous it would be for him to go to war with British opinion in its present alignment.
    That world opinion is so divided should not be a cue for the US government to chastise those who disagree with it. It should be a warning that the case for war has not yet been made. " article: Why is the West so divided over this war? Perhaps because it is wrong... (external link)

    Feb 9 ~ Today's Sunday Scare Story Nonsense

    Terror gas detector vans to guard Britain David Cracknell and Adam Nathan MINISTERS are preparing to introduce a national network of air detectors to provide early warning of a biological attack by terrorists. " etc etc....
    ...
    Read Joan Smith in the Independent instead: ".....A few days later, after a young American artist was found murdered in a park in east London, police announced that they were looking for two men of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance. An al-Qa'ida connection! That was the conclusion of a friend of another American living in London, who reported it in the Daily Telegraph and described the city as a place where "you could be mugged, murdered, raped or gassed by al-Qa'ida at any moment". Strange, then, that not a single member of my vast circle of friends in London has experienced any of these events within living memory. We have not been infected with anthrax either, although some of us got a flu-like virus at Christmas that turned out to be - well, flu...."

    Feb 9 ~ The UK economy, foreign affairs, defence, justice and home affairs will all be under the direct control of unelected officials of the EU superstate - and only Christopher Booker seems to be saying so

    See Booker's Notebook (external link) this week. "One didn't know whether to laugh or cry listening to our Europe minister, Peter Hain, talking on the Today programme about the draft "constitution for Europe". For once even the BBC seemed taken aback at the scale of the proposed power-grab, with the economy, foreign affairs, defence, justice and home affairs all becoming "common policies", with a central role for the European Commission. John Bruton, the former Irish prime minister, waved their concerns aside, saying this had all been agreed years ago at Maastricht. Mr Hain was reduced to hopeless bluster, claiming that these were only proposals and that the final version would look very different.
    Certainly this draft constitution is chilling to read. It lays out starkly just how close we are to becoming the subjects of a "United States of Europe", ruled by a wholly unaccountable government in Brussels. But if the BBC had done its homework, there would have been nothing surprising about it, because every detail has been on the integrationist agenda for years. In coming months, as debate on the EU constitution comes to dominate political discussion, two boring-sounding words will give the key to what is going on: "inter-governmental" and "supra-national". ..." Read also "The Great Deception"

    Feb 9 ~" the world's first nuclear war...."

    Independent's Joan Smith (external link) "If anyone had told me, in the autumn of 2001, that we were less than 18 months away from what might become the world's first nuclear war, I would have thought they were insane. In the half century since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, no one has been that reckless or indeed that stupid - even, or so I thought, the Bush White House. Then came the twin towers and everything changed overnight, to the point where we find ourselves apparently on the threshold of a terrifying conflict in the Middle East. So the question I am going to ask, at the risk of causing great offence, is this: when is the US going to get over the events of 11 September?
    ...........Paranoia is not the only problem. The administration's war against the Taliban was neither a great military success (huge areas of Afghanistan are still in the hands of vicious warlords), nor did it provide the kind of catharsis that millions of shocked Americans demanded after 11 September. President Bush needs an enemy and Saddam fits the bill nicely, even though no one with an ounce of common sense credits Colin Powell's claims last week about an alliance between Iraq and al-Qa'ida. .....
    The President may take comfort from the thought that Tony Blair's Gladstonian vision lends him some moral authority, but it does not wash over here. If the world has become a more dangerous place since 11 September 2001, it is not solely because of the activities of a bunch of Islamic terrorists....

    Feb 9 ~ A Million to say NO to Blair on Iraq

    See article in today's Sunday Herald (Scotland) ".........'Even the police, who are notoriously conservative, admit that this will be the largest gathering of people in London since VE Day in 1945,' said Andrew Burgen, of the Stop The War Coalition. ....in a warning to both the United States and to UN Security Council countries contemplating using their veto on a second resolution against Iraq, Annan yesterday told the US government that it should not declare unilateral war against Saddam Hussein. In a combination of timely warning and appeal that indicates just how worried the UN is that its authority is under threat, Annan said that if the report on Friday from UN weapons inspectors points to Iraq not disarming, then 'the [security] council must face up to its responsibilities'. Annan said that the Iraqi crisis was 'an issue not for any one state, but for the international community as a whole'. ...."

    Feb 9 ~ The US gets out its cheque book...

    Sunday Herald: "Other sources suggested that the US will be spending like a lottery winner in the coming weeks to try to secure the support, or at least the non interference, of key Arab states. 'They will be writing some very large cheques in the region,' he said. 'They realise that gaining Arab support for this war is going to prove very costly.' Indeed it emerged over the weekend that White House officials have been meeting secretly with Iranian leaders seeking guarantees that Tehran will not allow members of the National Guard to seek refuge in Iran or aid the Iraqis in any war against the US. It is understood that the US has offered Iran -- which Bush labelled a member of the 'axis of evil' a year ago -- generous offers of aid if it agrees not to hinder the American war effort. ...."
    "For a new Security Council resolution to be passed, nine votes need to be cast in favour and no veto can be used by a permanent member state. Apart from the five permanent members, the council is made up of 10 countries that serve on a rotating basis. Germany, which has come out strongly against military action, currently holds the presidency. Angola, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Mexico, Pakistan, Syria and Spain are the remaining non-permanent members. All have trade links or receive either military or economic aid from the US.
    In the end, UN sources predict that self-interest will triumph. The French will get the concessions they are seeking -- namely a guarantee that the lucrative oil contracts negotiated with Saddam Hussein won't be used as toilet paper by American energy giants. The Russians and Chinese, who also have power of veto, will either abstain or vote with the Americans and British.
    The general expectation appears to be that non-permanent members will come onside during the debate that is expected to follow Hans Blix's February 14 report. By then, Saddam may have granted more concessions to the inspectors, but the view here is that it is too late for anything short of a total climbdown by the Iraqi dictator. The US and Britain will insist that he has already breached Resolution 1441 and seek a resolution asserting this fact. ...."