July 31st, 2003 - by admin
by Fred Kaplan / Slate –
(July 14, 2003) — Two developments lend a new urgency to the nuclear crisis that has been brewing in North Korea, all but unattended, for the past nine months.
First, North Korean officials say they have reprocessed all 8,000 of their fuel rods at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, the first and crucial step in producing the plutonium needed to make atom bombs. While they may be exaggerating, reprocessing does seem to have begun (which seemed unclear just a few weeks ago), as indicated by traces of Krypton-85, a chemical byproduct of reprocessing, that US intelligence has detected in the atmosphere nearby.
Second, while North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il may be the battiest leader on the planet, he has good reason to believe Bush wants to overthrow him-even to attack his country, if that’s what it takes-and the latest US News & World Report will only reinforce these fears.
The magazine details a draft of a new Pentagon war plan – Plan 5030 – that gives American commanders the authority to take highly provocative actions against North Korea even before a war has started. For instance, they can conduct maneuvers or hold surprise military exercises, with the aim of flushing North Korean troops out of their barracks and onto heightened alert. Or they can order RC-135 spy planes to fly right up to the border, forcing the North to scramble jet fighters. The purpose of these actions would be to strain the North Korean military’s scarce resources and to sow enough confusion among its officers that they might turn against Kim’s regime.
Plan 5030 has not yet been approved, but its very disclosure deepens the crisis-and the opportunity for a settlement. (This may have been the intent of those who leaked the plan-“insiders,” according to the story, who worry that the plan’s authors are dangerously, and deliberately, blurring the line between war and peace.)
Well over a year ago, Bush famously placed North Korea, along with Iraq and Iran, in the “axis of evil”; several high-ranking aides have since expressed desires for “regime change” in Pyongyang as well as Baghdad and Tehran. North Korean foreign ministry officials have been saying for months that they need a “nuclear deterrent” to hold Bush’s “hostile” intentions at bay. The lesson they learned from the gulf wars-this year’s and 1991’s Desert Storm-was that not having nuclear weapons invites American attack.
The news story about Plan 5030-which also reports that the plan’s most fervent advocates are the same Pentagon officials who pushed for invading Iraq-will only confirm the North Koreans’ perceptions, and thus accelerate their drive for nukes.
Bush can now follow one of three paths. He can push ahead with Plan 5030, step up efforts to destabilize Kim Jong-il’s regime, and-in line with the other publicly known US war plan, OPLAN 5027-launch a pre-emptive strike against the Yongbyon nuclear complex and other military targets.
This might be a good idea (the world would be a better place without a North Korean bomb and, for that matter, without the Kim Jong-il regime), if Bush’s war planners could guarantee they can destroy the complex before any bombs are produced and destroy North Korea’s 10,000 or so artillery guns — some of them buried in the sides of mountains (and therefore very hard to hit), several tipped with chemical warheads, and most within range of Seoul (and thus able to kill hundreds of thousands of South Korean civilians, as well as tens of thousands of American soldiers).
The problem, of course, is that no war planner can guarantee such an attack, or even give it an acceptably high probability of success. The risks, and the costs of failure, are way too high. For better or for worse, there is no good military option.
That being the case, Bush has two choices. He can muddle through, as he has been doing-sending envoys to the occasional multilateral chat but otherwise refusing, on some misconceived notion of “principle,” to do business with nasty characters and hope that, not far down the road, Kim’s regime collapses, whether from pressure, poverty, or entropy. This course, too, will not likely bear fruit, except for plutonium seedlings from Yongbyon.
So, unless Bush prefers a nuclear North Korea to the pangs of compromise, he is left with one course — a negotiated buy-out. Kim has been requesting such a buy-out ever since the crisis started last October, and if Bush can see beyond the cliché of tagging all such schemes as “blackmail” or “appeasement” — if his advisers could remind him that all diplomacy (especially nuclear diplomacy) involves a certain amount of bribery-there may be a chance to stop this wreck before it happens.
Essentially, Kim’s minions say he will abandon his nuclear program and open up the reactors to inspection, in exchange for a US non-aggression pact and the resumption of some economic assistance. This isn’t a bad deal, really. A bipartisan group of congressmen who went to Pyongyang last month put a 10-point plan on the table, outlining a way to achieve these ends. The minions said they liked it. No one has explained why Bush shouldn’t adopt the plan as his and start the talks.
Obviously, some administration officials think he should go for a negotiated solution. That’s why they leaked Plan 5030 — to highlight how closely this crisis might veer to war. Kim Jong-il thinks we’re going to attack him, so he rushes his nuclear-weapons program to deter the onslaught — which incites Pentagon officials to drum up better plans to attack him. The alarming question before us all: Will Bush break this deadly circle, or complete it?
July 31st, 2003 - by admin
(July 30, 2003) — Today a devastating war in Liberia is displacing thousands, spreading disease, destroying families and communities, and threatening to further unravel the region of West Africa. The warring groups, the people of Liberia, and the international community have all called on the US to help lead an international peacekeeping effort to restore order and open the way for a political resolution of the conflict. Liberian President Charles Taylor has said he will step down from power, but only after US peacekeepers have arrived. Unfortunately, the US has not yet answered the call to help with a clear and adequate commitment.
ACTION: Please contact your representative today and urge her or him to cosponsor H.Con.Res. 240, calling on the US to take a lead in supporting an end to hostilities, deploying an international stabilization force, and providing humanitarian assistance. Ask her or him to tell the President that the US must take a lead in helping end the violence in Liberia. The US has strong historical ties to Liberia and played a role over many years in fueling conflict in the country and the region. The US must now play a role in restoring peace and rebuilding democracy in Liberia.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IS EASY: Start with the sample letter posted in our Legislative Action Center, personalize the language, then email or fax your message directly from our site. You can also print it out and mail it. To view the sample letter, click on the link below, then scroll down to the bottom of the Alert. Here is the link:
BACKGROUND: On July 26, President Bush ordered the Pentagon to position a limited number of Marines off the coast of Liberia to support West African peacekeepers. The US also pledged to provide $10 million to cover some peacekeeping costs. However, without assurance that the US will provide more active and substantial support in a peacekeeping effort, under-resourced African peacekeepers are hesitant to initiate a much-needed mission to stabilize the country and restore order.
On July 7, Rep. Donald Payne (NJ) and a small group of Members of Congress introduced H.Con.Res. 240, calling on the US to take a lead in supporting an end to hostilities, deploying an international stabilization force and providing humanitarian assistance. The resolution also urges the international community to support long-term political transition and reconstruction. Many Members of Congress realize the importance of US leadership in Liberia and would support sending US peacekeepers and contributing to the long-term work of rebuilding the country. However, they remain hesitant to speak out publicly because the President has not yet acted.
For more information, including FCNL’s letter to the President, letter to Congress, policy recommendations, and background information on the conflict, click here http://www.fcnl.org/issues/int/liberia_indx.htm
Friends Committee on National Legislation, 245 2nd ST NE, Washington, DC 20002, (800)630-1330. To learn more about FCNL’s lobbying and educational programs, go to
July 29th, 2003 - by admin
by Joanne Baker – Pandora DU Research Project
BAGHDAD (June 30, 2003) — “Why is Baghdad suffering?” This question is on everybodys lips. Electricity, we have heard, has been restored in all other towns. Only Baghdad is being denied this basic life support. As the heat increases, so does the desperation and bitterness of the people.
There is a total incomprehension that America, the world’s greatest superpower cannot provide in three months even basic services that the government under Saddam was able to restore within one month.
This is worsened by the fact that expectations have been so much greater. People believed that, with the fall of the regime, the life-numbing deprivation of previous years would be over. Instead they have never had it so bad. As one taxi-driver asked of us, “What have the Americans come here for? There is no electricity, no water, no petrol, the roads are blocked, there is no security anymore. Why have they come?“
I am asked how I now find Baghdad. How has it changed?
It is perhaps best described as a city in trauma. Still reeling from the appalling bombardment, it is now experiencing the shock of occupation and anarchy. There is no law and order. No one is in charge. People are crying out for help with their personal tragedies but there is nowhere to turn.
An elderly banker told me yesterday that he had approached the Americans for compensation for the bombing of his house and car, the death of his son and his daughter-in-law’s miscarriage. He showed us his meticulously presented evidence, in the form of photographs, a CD and written documentation. He was told by the Americans that they had already received two million such claims and they assured him that every single one was relegated to the rubbish bin. Despite this, in his humbling generosity, he welcomed us to Iraq and invited us to his home.
In this one aspect it seems that the people of Iraq have not changed. Their warmth and generosity of spirit is apparently indemonstrable.
During the day, convoys of American tanks patrol the streets, manned by what can only be described as scared children. “Pathetic!” my friend exclaims. They would be if they were not so extremely dangerous. If they believe that they are winning the hearts and minds of the people, they could not be further from the truth. Now even those Iraqis, who initially welcomed them, are saying that if things continue as they are they will not hesitate to take up a gun and fight back. They are giving them another few weeks or months and then they assure us there will be organized resistance.
The nights are filled with sporadic gunfire. The Americans have imposed a curfew that starts at 11pm. The people, however, have their own self-imposed curfew. No one leaves their house after dark.
From 8pm the streets are already beginning to clear. People are hurrying home whether on foot or by car. When I was in Baghdad a year ago, this was the time when families would be spilling out on to the streets to make the most of the cooler evening air, to shop, to eat and to socialize. Now there is only terror.
Everyone is buying a gun for self-protection. A Kalashnikof was recently selling for as little as one dollar! No one really seems to know who the looters and muggers are. Myths abound. Many speak of the thousands of criminals and psychopaths released from the prisons by Saddam Hussein. Others blame the recent open selling of alcohol and drugs on the streets — something, previously unheard of in a Muslim country.
Some of the killings are undoubtedly the result of old feuds and quarrels. Whatever the truth, the greatest cry is for someone to take control.
[Compounding] the sense of insecurity, is the complete lack of communications in Baghdad. The destruction of the civilian telecommunication system is undoubtedly a denial of human rights. In my own case, if I wish to contact anybody at all, I have to take a taxi to their home or workplace and hope that they will be there. It is too dangerous to travel anywhere on one’s own, especially as a woman, so someone else has to accompany me. If the person I wish to see is not there, a whole new arrangement has to be made.
It is easier and quicker to communicate with people abroad, than with those living within Baghdad. The taxi journeys themselves are exhausting. Many roads are blocked by the US troops and in the absence of any working traffic lights areas become completely jammed.
For the first time in Baghdad, I have seen long queues at petrol stations. This is again because there is a lack of electricity to pump the petrol. Drivers are miraculously managing — creating a strange kind of order in chaos — and despite the extreme heat inside the cars, I have yet to see any sign of punch-ups or angry words.
As temperatures reach the mid 40s centigrade, the greatest hardship is water shortage due to the minimal power generation. People arrive at work in the mornings saying “We are so tired. We havent slept. The nights are so hot and our children have been crying from the pain of thirst. Is this the human rights Britain and America are promising us?”
It is this perhaps more than anything that is confusing and angering the people of Baghdad. It is unspeakable that they are being left in this condition. It is to their extraordinary credit that people turn up to work at all. There is very little absenteeism. Rubbish is being collected, deliveries are being made, teachers and doctors are carrying on their work. This despite absolutely no guarantee of salary.
There is no doubt that most people are glad to be rid of the terrors associated with the previous regime. But what they have now is different form of terror and human rights abuse.
The message has sunk in that the US has no interest in their welfare and that this is a blatant occupation. Rumour has it that the US troops have written on their tanks, “Our soldiers lives versus water and electricity!” Whether this is true or not, many believe that this denial of the most essential services is a form of punishment exacted by Bremmer or, as he is now called, Bremmer Hussein!
No Iraqi I have met will accept this and if Britain and the US do not understand the implications of their current policy, there will be extraordinarily difficult times ahead
Joanne Baker is a member of the Pandora Depleted Uranium Research Project currenty stationed in Iraq. firstname.lastname@example.org
July 29th, 2003 - by admin
by United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) –
WASHINGTON (July 23, 2003) — Twenty-three sub-Saharan African countries are facing food emergencies, according to a new report released by FAO. The countries are Angola, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The main reasons for emergencies are civil strife, drought, the internal displacement of people and economic disruption.
In Western Africa, food production and other economic activities in several coastal countries continue to be disrupted by civil strife.
In Liberia, persistent armed clashes that restrict access to most agricultural areas and cause mass population displacement are a major cause of food insecurity. Agricultural production is being disrupted by renewed fighting, pointing to a further drop in rice production this year.
Until recently, some 200 000 internally displaced persons from the north, northwest, and central regions were living in camps in the suburbs of Monrovia; following recent escalations of violence, most of them have fled to the city centre and are living in extremely difficult conditions and are dependent on food aid.
Although the overall security situation is improving in Côte d’Ivoire, the food situation remains critical, mainly in the rebel-controlled north and west. In the north, access to food is very difficult for cotton farmers who were unable to sell their crop because of the conflict.
In the west, which suffers continuing attacks against civilians and population displacement, and where renewed fighting in Liberia has led to a new influx of displaced persons, farm families have limited access to their fields because of insecurity. More than one million people have been displaced by the conflict.
In Mauritania, although emergency food aid distributions and subsidized sales of wheat have improved the food situation in the worst-hit regions, grain supplies remain tight and livestock prices are falling, seriously limiting access to food for pastoralists and farming households. Approximately 420 000 people need food assistance. Emergency provision of seeds will be necessary to enable drought-affected farming families to resume agricultural production.
In eastern Africa, heavy rains and floods earlier in the year in parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia killed a number of people, displaced thousands, destroyed or damaged crops and increased the likelihood of serious localised food shortages.
In Eritrea, serious food shortages persist with as many as two-thirds of the country’s population severely affected due to last year’s drought. Of these, an estimated 1.4 million need emergency food assistance. In addition, humanitarian assistance continues to be needed for large numbers of people internally displaced by the recent war with neighbouring Etiopía and returning refugees from Sudan.
In Ethiopia, the number of people in need of food assistance is now estimated at 12.5 million.
In Sudan, serious food shortages have emerged in several parts of the country. In southern Sudan, 1.9 million people will need food assistance until the next harvest.
In southern Africa, the 2003 cereal production is forecast to increase by 6.6 percent over last year’s average level to 21.6 million tonnes. Despite better harvests, southern Africa still requires a significant amount of food aid in the coming months.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic is a major compounding factor in the sub-region’s food security problems.
In Zimbabwe, cereal production remained well below normal levels, and 5.5 million people, or half of the country’s total population, need emergency food aid. The impact of a severe drought was compounded by the prevailing social, economic and political problems. The large-scale farm sector produced only one-tenth of its 1990s output. The country faces a shortfall of close to 1.3 million tonnes of cereals.
In Mozambique, the overall cereal harvest was good but some 949 000 people mainly in the southern provinces will require food assistance due to near-total failure of the maize crop.
In Angola, the 2003 cereal production increased substantially reflecting good weather, increased plantings following the return of internally displaced people to rural areas, and improved distribution of agricultural inputs. However, food aid will continue to be required for 1.4 million people in 2003/04.
In Central Africa, civil strife and insecurity continue to undermine food security in several countries.
A serious humanitarian situation persists in the in the Democratic Republic of Congo, due to inter-ethnic violence. Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands displaced. Favourable growing conditions notwithstanding, crop production is expected to be sharply reduced in the eastern and north-eastern parts following the escalation of civil war. Around 483 000 people will receive emergency food assistance from the World Food Programme.
In the Central African Republic, the food security situation is precarious; food production is not expected to increase this year due to persistent insecurity, notably in the north.
In Burundi and Rwanda, rains in late April and May improved conditions for the 2003 second season so good crops are in prospect. However, there were localized crop losses in some provinces due to unfavourable weather.
“Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa” is a report of the Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS).
Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa – the report –
July 29th, 2003 - by admin
by Agence France-Presse –
LONDON (July 28, 2003) AFP — Human induced global climate change is a weapon of mass destruction at least as dangerous as nuclear, chemical or biological arms, a leading British climate scientist warned.
John Houghton, a former key member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said Monday that the impacts of global warming are such that “I have no hesitation in describing it as a weapon of mass destruction.” He said the United States, in an “epic” abandonment of leadership, was largely responsible for the threat.
“Like terrorism, this weapon knows no boundaries,” Houghton said. “It can strike anywhere, in any form — a heatwave in one place, a drought or a flood or a storm surge in another”
The US mainland was struck by 562 tornados in May, killing 41 people, he said, but the developing world was hit even harder. For example, pre-monsoon temperatures this year in India reached a blistering 49C (120F), 5C (9F) above normal. “Once this killer heatwave began to abate, 1,500 people lay dead — half the number killed outright in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre,” Houghton said.
He said British Prime Minister Tony Blair begun to face up to this, rhetorically at least, but “nowadays everyone knows that the US is the world’s biggest polluter, and that with only one 20th of the world’s population it produces a quarter of its greenhouse gas emissions.”
“But the US government, in an abdication of leadership of epic proportions, is refusing to take the problem seriously — and Britain, presumably because Blair wishes not to offend George Bush — is beginning to fall behind too,” Houghton said.
Apart from being co-chairman of the scientific assessment group of the climate change panel, Houghton is also the former chief executive of the British Meteorological Office.
Europe Blisters under Heatwave
PARIS (July 16, 2003) Herald Sun — Rome is considering water rations. London will reward anyone who can invent an air conditioning system for the sweltering Tube. In Paris, the city’s fountains have become wading pools. Summer has arrived with a vengeance in parts of Europe, forcing dehydrated tourists to run for cover as officials from England to Romania scramble to limit the damage from drought and high heat.
In Paris, where the mercury rose to an almost Australian 33 degrees Celsius (91 F) today, water vendors were out in force, ice cream parlours did brisk business and weary tourists took refuge in just about every place the could.
Places like England, Berlin and some Baltic countries were basking in uncommonly balmy climes more reminiscent of summer in the Mediterranean. Belgian daily De Morgen ran a front-page photo of a man in a bathing suit sunning himself in the town of Oostende under the headline: “Belgium is becoming a tropical paradise”.
Scorching temperatures in Italy today prompted authorities to discuss whether to declare a state of emergency in the country’s north due to a weeks-long drought. Rome officials spoke about rationing water in dozens of the capital’s districts and Italian newspapers warned that fruit and vegetable prices could rise by 30 percent because output from parched fields was shrinking.
Italy was hit by power blackouts late last month when citizens overloaded the system during a heatwave. Big power plants on the River Po – at its lowest level in decades – lacked the water needed to cool their turbines.
Meteorologists in Italy predicted the searing temperatures and lack of rain in the country’s battered north would continue into August. Some experts blamed global warming.”Temperatures are increasing all over the world and in Italy specifically, 0.5 degrees (Celsius/ .9 F) in the last 30 years,” geologist Mario Tozzi said.The result was a 30 percent drop in rainfall over the last 30 years, he said.
Levels in some of Europe’s leading rivers were dropping. German officials said the Rhine was at five-year lows and ships along the Danube faced the risk of running aground in Romania.
Authorities in Romania were digging deeper channels in the Danube to prevent ships from grounding, and ordered shipping companies to reduce their loads on one of eastern Europe’s top commercial arteries.
The economic fallout was poised to hit agriculture too. In Austria, farming groups warned that drought was likely to cut this summer’s harvest of various crops – such as grains, peas and corn – in many places down to about 60 percent of normal levels. At least four brush fires broke out on Corsica today, prompting firefighters to fan out across the French Mediterranean island to battle the blazes.
Authorities were also on guard about possible forest fires in Finland, a big timber producer, where temperatures topped 30 degrees Celsius under glaring sunshine in recent days.
On one of the city’s hottest days of the year, London Mayor Ken Livingstone offered a $245,000 reward to anyone who invented an air-conditioning system for the London Underground’s deepest lines.
In the French capital, some commuters said Paris officials could take a lesson from their neighbour across the Channel.”It’s high time they put air conditioning in the Paris Metro,” said Parisian Joelle Abalea, 33, as she entered the station at Place de la Concorde.”It’s so hot in here that for short trips, I’d rather walk in the sun than take the subway.”
July 29th, 2003 - by admin
by Robert Fisk / The Independent (London) –
BAGHDAD (July 28, 2003) – Obsessed with capturing Saddam Hussein, American soldiers turned a botched raid on a house in the Mansur district of Baghdad yesterday into a bloodbath, opening fire on scores of Iraqi civilians in a crowded street and killing up to 11, including two children, their mother and crippled father. At least one civilian car caught fire, cremating its occupants.
The vehicle carrying the two children and their mother and father was riddled by bullets as it approached a razor-wired checkpoint outside the house.
Amid the fury generated among the largely middle-class residents of Mansur – by ghastly coincidence, the killings were scarcely 40 metres from the houses in which 16 civilians died when the Americans tried to kill Saddam towards the end of the war in April – whatever political advantages were gained by the killing of Saddam’s sons have been squandered. A doctor at the Yarmouk hospital, which received four of the dead, turned on me angrily last night, shouting: “If an American came to my emergency room, maybe I would kill him.”
Two civilians, both believed to have been driving with their families, were brought to the Yarmouk, one with abdominal wounds and the other with “his brain outside of his head”, according to another doctor.
At the scene of the killings, there was pandemonium. While US troops were loading the bullet-shattered cars on trucks – and trying to stop cameramen filming the carnage – crowds screamed abuse at them.
One American soldier a few feet from me climbed into the seat of his Humvee, threw his helmet on the floor of the vehicle and shouted: “Shit! Shit!”
There was no doubt about the target: the home of Sheikh Rabia Mohamed Habib, a prominent tribal leader who had met Saddam but who was not even in his house when the Americans stormed it. One report says they killed a guard as they entered.
“The Americans searched the house completely, very roughly,” Sheikh Habib said. “It seems they thought Saddam Hussein was inside.”
It appears the killings started as the troops were searching the building and as motorists approached the barbed wire which the soldiers had placed without warning across the road. Witnesses said the first car contained at least two men. “The second contained two children about 10, their mother and their father who had been wounded in the Iran-Iraq war – he was a cripple,” a local shopkeeper told me. “They all died. The man’s legs were cut in half by the bullets,” he added. A third car then approached the Americans, who opened fire again. One of the occupants fled, but the other two remained in the vehicle and were killed.
When another car arrived US troops riddled it with more bullets and it burst into flames. It is believed that two people were inside and both were burnt to death. “The Americans didn’t try to help the civilians they had shot, not once,” a witness said. “They let the car burn and left the bodies where they lay, even the children. It was we who had to take them to the hospitals.”
Yet again, false informers, ill-trained American soldiers who appeared to exercise no fire control and a lack of military planning has created a tragedy among the people the Americans claimed to be ‘liberating’ from Saddam Hussein only 15 weeks ago. Last night, there were reports from the southern city of Karbala that three men had been shot dead by American troops during a demonstration.
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)
July 29th, 2003 - by admin
(July 29, 2003) — In statements from his Congressional office and on the campaign trail, Kucinich continued today to urge a change of direction in Iraq. His advocacy of a US to UN transition is in stark contrast to other Democratic candidates; Howard Dean, for example, supports sending additional US troops to Iraq (Meet the Press, 6/22).
Kucinich said today: “This weekend, with the deaths of 5 US troops, we were once again reminded of the dangers facing US troops in what has become a quagmire. To date 243 US troops have died in Iraq. It is time that the United States begins the process of withdrawing our troops, and allow a UN peacekeeping force to take over the reconstruction of Iraq.
“In their rush to war, the Administration failed to adequately prepare for the post-invasion period. Negotiations for an exit must begin now. An exit agreement with the United Nations must involve the US letting go of the contracting process. “The UN must also take over management, accounting and distribution to the Iraqi people of Iraq’s oil profits.
Additionally, a transition from UN control to self- determined governing structure by and for the Iraqi people must be planned. Finally, the Administration, which unwisely ordered the bombing, must fund the reconstruction.” — From today’s Des Moines Register:
It’s time to bring American troops home from Iraq, Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich said Sunday at a nationally televised forum in Ottumwa. “This is the time for us to rejoin the world community, rejoin the United Nations and get our troops out of there,” said Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, at a forum hosted by US Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and televised by C-SPAN. “I don’t like the fact that our men and women are being used for targets.”
Kucinich’s comments came as yet another US soldier was killed early Sunday south of Baghdad…. Kucinich’s call for the return of US troops stands in contrast to former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, another opponent of the war who has said the United States can’t withdraw from Iraq now, because that could lead to chaos.
July 29th, 2003 - by admin
by Steve Kretzmann and Jim Vallette – TomPaine.com / Institute for Policy Studies
WASHINGTON (July 28 2003) — During the initial assault on Baghdad, soldiers set up forward bases named Camp Shell and Camp Exxon. Those soldiers knew the score, even if the Pentagon’s talking points dismissed any ties between Iraqi oil and their blood.
The Bush/Cheney administration has moved quickly to ensure US corporate control over Iraqi resources, at least through the year 2007. The first part of the plan, created by the United Nations under US pressure, is the Development Fund for Iraq, which is being controlled by the United States and advised by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The second is a recent Bush executive order that provides absolute legal protection for US interests in Iraqi oil.
In May, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1483, which ended sanctions and endorsed the creation of Development Fund for Iraq, to be controlled by Paul Bremer and overseen by a board of accountants, including UN, World Bank and IMF representatives. It endorsed the transfer of over $1 billion (of Iraqi oil money) from the Oil-for-Food program into the Development Fund. All proceeds from the sale of Iraqi oil and natural gas are also to be placed into the fund.
In the creation and expected implementation of this Development Fund for Iraq, one finds the fingerprints of the global economic structural adjustment that has attracted so much protest in recent years. World Bank and IMF programs, backed by the rigged rules of the World Trade Organization, have imposed dramatic financial restructuring upon much of the world. Developing countries have amassed huge debts in exchange for selling out their natural resources to powerful Northern corporations. This paradigm cloaks corporate welfare and neocolonialism in terms of “poverty alleviation,” and now in Iraq as “humanitarian assistance.”
New debt for Iraq will accrue through the very program that President Bush pledged would “benefit the people of Iraq.” The Development Fund, derived from actual and expected Iraqi oil and gas sales, will apparently be used to leverage US government-backed loans, credit and direct financing for US corporate forays into Iraq. Besides financing reconstruction projects, some of the funds will also be used as collateral for projects approved by the US Export-Import Bank (ExIm), whose mission is not development or poverty alleviation, but rather the creation of US jobs and the promotion of American business abroad.
ExIm recently announced that it was open for business in Iraq and would begin considering applications by subcontractors (that is, companies hired by Bechtel and Halliburton) in Iraq. Corporations have found it next to impossible to obtain private bank credit for work in Iraq, due to the ongoing insecure environment. But ExIm has stepped in to take a lead role in facilitating US business in Iraq.
“The primary source of repayment,” explained an ExIm release, “is the Development Fund for Iraq, or another entity established under the auspices of the Coalition Provisional Authority with access to foreign exchange and protection from claims of creditors of the former regime.” In other words, the US government is happy to provide credit to any US business wishing to do business in Iraq — especially because the money comes from Iraq.
But for the Bush/Cheney administration and their allies in the oil industry, this was not enough. Hours after the United Nations endorsed US control of the “Development Fund” for Iraq, Bush signed an executive order that was spun as implementing Resolution 1483, but in reality went much further towards attracting investment and minimizing risk for US corporations in Iraq.
Executive Order 13303 decrees that “any attachment, judgment, decree, lien, execution, garnishment, or other judicial process is prohibited, and shall be deemed null and void,” with respect to the Development Fund for Iraq and “all Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products, and interests therein.”
In other words, if ExxonMobil or ChevronTexaco touch Iraqi oil, it will be immune from legal proceedings in the United States. Anything that could go, and elsewhere has gone, awry with US corporate oil operations will be immune to judgment: a massive tanker accident; an explosion at an oil refinery; the employment of slave labor to build a pipeline; murder of locals by corporate security; the release of billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The president, with a stroke of the pen, signed away the rights of Saddam’s victims, creditors and of the next true Iraqi government to be compensated through legal action. Bush’s order unilaterally declares Iraqi oil to be the unassailable province of US corporations.
In the short term, through the Development Fund and the Export-Import Bank programs, the Iraqi people’s oil will finance US corporate entrees into Iraq. In the long term, Executive Order 13303 protects anything those corporations do to seize control of Iraq’s oil, from the point of production to the gas pump — and places oil companies above the rule of law.
Steve Kretzmann and Jim Vallette are analysts with the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network of the Institute for Policy Studies.
July 29th, 2003 - by admin
by Bob Graham / Evening Standard (London) –
BAGHDAD (July 29, 2003) — British troops have been flown home from Iraq as casualties of the desert heat with many of them claiming their equipment is not good enough to handle the intense conditions.
The Ministry of Defence admitted today its soldiers are falling “at the rate of three a day” from temperature related problems. But a spokesman claimed the situation in the Basra region (by far the hottest and most humid in Iraq) had improved because a few weeks ago soldiers were going down at the rate of 10 a day from heat exhaustion.
The MoD said today it is doing what it can to improve the conditions of servicemen and women in Iraq where temperatures are hitting up to 55 degrees Celsius [120 F].
A number of soldiers from units within 19 Brigade have claimed troops were without basic welfare including air-conditioning and cool water and were using fly-infested lavatories.
There are 11,000 UK servicemen and women in southern Iraq. Some have complained that basic facilities had remained the same since the war, even though temperatures had soared.
One corporal said: “If you can’t sleep because of the heat, your efficiency and general health decline rapidly. People are in a state of collapse after three or four days. Most of us are still ‘bird bathing’ in water from bowser trucks poured into metal or plastic basins.”
The MoD said the living conditions of troops in the Gulf was a serious issue. A spokeswoman said: “Given the intensity of the heat out there, we are doing our very best to improve conditions for our troops to ensure that they acclimatise to the heat.” She said the military was “constantly trying to improve living conditions”.
Personnel from units within 19 Brigade, which took over from the Desert Rats of the 1st UK Armoured Division in Basra last month, have complained about the lack of basic welfare for the soldiers patrolling the streets of Iraq’s second city.
Concerns include tents with no airconditioning, having to drink “blood-temperature” bottled water and filthy chemical lavatories.
While the cash-strapped Czech Republic has provided its military police detachment under UK command with cooled sleeping quarters and cold drinks, British troops are suffering exhaustion from being unable to sleep.
Another corporal said: “We came last month to replace the Parachute Regiment but they had a long period to acclimatise. We had 10 days in Kuwait.”
July 28th, 2003 - by admin
by Glen Rangwala and Raymond Whitaker – The lndependent (London) July 13, 2003
Falsehoods Ranging from Exaggeration to Plain Untruth Were Used to Make the Case for War.
More Lies are Being Used in the Aftermath
1. Iraq was responsible for the 11 September attacks
A supposed meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, leader of the 11 September hijackers, and an Iraqi intelligence official was the main basis for this claim, but Czech intelligence later conceded that the Iraqi’s contact could not have been Atta. This did not stop the constant stream of assertions that Iraq was involved in 9/11, which was so successful that at one stage opinion polls showed that two-thirds of Americans believed the hand of Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks. Almost as many believed Iraqi hijackers were aboard the crashed airliners; in fact there were none.
2. Iraq and al-Qa’ida were working together
Persistent claims by US and British leaders that Saddam and Osama bin Laden were in league with each other were contradicted by a leaked British Defense Intelligence Staff report, which said there were no current links between them. Mr Bin Laden’s “aims are in ideological conflict with present-day Iraq”, it added.
Another strand to the claims was that al-Qa’ida members were being sheltered in Iraq, and had set up a poisons training camp. When US troops reached the camp, they found no chemical or biological traces.
3. Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa for a “reconstituted” nuclear weapons program
The head of the CIA has now admitted that documents purporting to show that Iraq tried to import uranium from Niger in west Africa were forged, and that the claim should never have been in President Bush’s State of the Union address. Britain sticks by the claim, insisting it has “separate intelligence”. The Foreign Office conceded last week that this information is now “under review”.
4. Iraq was trying to import aluminum tubes to develop nuclear weapons
The US persistently alleged that Baghdad tried to buy high-strength aluminum tubes whose only use could be in gas centrifuges, needed to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. Equally persistently, the International Atomic Energy Agency said the tubes were being used for artillery rockets. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, told the UN Security Council in January that the tubes were not even suitable for centrifuges.
5. Iraq still had vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons from the first Gulf War
Iraq possessed enough dangerous substances to kill the whole world, it was alleged more than once. It had pilotless aircraft which could be smuggled into the US and used to spray chemical and biological toxins. Experts pointed out that apart from mustard gas, Iraq never had the technology to produce materials with a shelf-life of 12 years, the time between the two wars. All such agents would have deteriorated to the point of uselessness years ago.
6. Iraq retained up to 20 missiles which could carry chemical or biological warheads, with a range which would threaten British forces in Cyprus
Apart from the fact that there has been no sign of these missiles since the invasion, Britain downplayed the risk of there being any such weapons in Iraq once the fighting began. It was also revealed that chemical protection equipment was removed from British bases in Cyprus last year, indicating that the Government did not take its own claims seriously.
7. Saddam Hussein had the wherewithal to develop smallpox
This allegation was made by the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in his address to the UN Security Council in February. The following month the UN said there was nothing to support it.
8. US and British claims were supported by the inspectors
According to Jack Straw, chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix “pointed out” that Iraq had 10,000 liters of anthrax. Tony Blair said Iraq’s chemical, biological and “indeed the nuclear weapons program” had been well documented by the UN. Mr Blix’s reply? “This is not the same as saying there are weapons of mass destruction,” he said last September. “If I had solid evidence that Iraq retained weapons of mass destruction or were constructing such weapons, I would take it to the Security Council.” In May this year he added: “I am obviously very interested in the question of whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction, and I am beginning to suspect there possibly were not.”
9. Previous weapons inspections had failed
Tony Blair told this newspaper in March that the UN had “tried unsuccessfully for 12 years to get Saddam to disarm peacefully”. But in 1999 a Security Council panel concluded: “Although important elements still have to be resolved, the bulk of Iraq’s proscribed weapons programs has been eliminated.” Mr Blair also claimed UN inspectors “found no trace at all of Saddam’s offensive biological weapons program” until his son-in-law defected. In fact the UN got the regime to admit to its biological weapons program more than a month before the defection.
10. Iraq was obstructing the inspectors
Britain’s February “dodgy dossier” claimed inspectors’ escorts were “trained to start long arguments” with other Iraqi officials while evidence was being hidden, and inspectors’ journeys were monitored and notified ahead to remove surprise. Dr Blix said in February that the UN had conducted more than 400 inspections, all without notice, covering more than 300 sites. “We note that access to sites has so far been without problems,” he said. “In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew that the inspectors were coming.”
11. Iraq could deploy its weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes
This now-notorious claim was based on a single source, said to be a serving Iraqi military officer. This individual has not been produced since the war, but in any case Tony Blair contradicted the claim in April. He said Iraq had begun to conceal its weapons in May 2002, which meant that they could not have been used within 45 minutes.
12. The “dodgy dossier”
Mr Blair told the Commons in February, when the dossier was issued: “We issued further intelligence over the weekend about the infrastructure of concealment. It is obviously difficult when we publish intelligence reports.” It soon emerged that most of it was cribbed without attribution from three articles on the internet. Last month Alastair Campbell took responsibility for the plagiarism committed by his staff, but stood by the dossier’s accuracy, even though it confused two Iraqi intelligence organizations, and said one moved to new headquarters in 1990, two years before it was created.
13. War would be easy
Public fears of war in the US and Britain were assuaged by assurances that oppressed Iraqis would welcome the invading forces; that “demolishing Saddam Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk”, in the words of Kenneth Adelman, a senior Pentagon official in two previous Republican administrations. Resistance was patchy, but stiffer than expected, mainly from irregular forces fighting in civilian clothes. “This wasn’t the enemy we war-gamed against,” one general complained.
14. Umm Qasr
The fall of Iraq’s southernmost city and only port was announced several times before Anglo-American forces gained full control – by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, among others, and by Admiral Michael Boyce, chief of Britain’s Defense staff. “Umm Qasr has been overwhelmed by the US Marines and is now in coalition hands,” the Admiral announced, somewhat prematurely.
15. Basra rebellion
Claims that the Shia Muslim population of Basra, Iraq’s second city, had risen against their oppressors were repeated for days, long after it became clear to those there that this was little more than wishful thinking. The defeat of a supposed breakout by Iraqi armour was also announced by military spokesman in no position to know the truth.
16. The “rescue” of Private Jessica Lynch
Private Jessica Lynch’s “rescue” from a hospital in Nasiriya by American special forces was presented as the major “feel-good” story of the war. She was said to have fired back at Iraqi troops until her ammunition ran out, and was taken to hospital suffering bullet and stab wounds. It has since emerged that all her injuries were sustained in a vehicle crash, which left her incapable of firing any shot. Local medical staff had tried to return her to the Americans after Iraqi forces pulled out of the hospital, but the doctors had to turn back when US troops opened fire on them. The special forces encountered no resistance, but made sure the whole episode was filmed.
17. Troops would face chemical and biological weapons
As US forces approached Baghdad, there was a rash of reports that they would cross a “red line”, within which Republican Guard units were authorized to use chemical weapons. But Lieutenant General James Conway, the leading US marine general in Iraq, conceded afterwards that intelligence reports that chemical weapons had been deployed around Baghdad before the war were wrong.
“It was a surprise to me … that we have not uncovered weapons … in some of the forward dispersal sites,” he said. “We’ve been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they’re simply not there. We were simply wrong. Whether or not we’re wrong at the national level, I think still very much remains to be seen.”
18. Interrogation of scientists would yield the location of WMD
“I have got absolutely no doubt that those weapons are there … once we have the co-operation of the scientists and the experts, I have got no doubt that we will find them,” Tony Blair said in April. Numerous similar assurances were issued by other leading figures, who said interrogations would provide the WMD discoveries that searches had failed to supply. But almost all Iraq’s leading scientists are in custody, and claims that lingering fears of Saddam Hussein are stilling their tongues are beginning to wear thin.
19. Iraq’s oil money would go to Iraqis
Tony Blair complained in Parliament that “people falsely claim that we want to seize” Iraq’s oil revenues, adding that they should be put in a trust fund for the Iraqi people administered through the UN. Britain should seek a Security Council resolution that would affirm “the use of all oil revenues for the benefit of the Iraqi people”.
Instead Britain co-sponsored a Security Council resolution that gave the US and UK control over Iraq’s oil revenues. There is no UN-administered trust fund.
Far from “all oil revenues” being used for the Iraqi people, the resolution continues to make deductions from Iraq’s oil earnings to pay in compensation for the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
20. WMD were found
After repeated false sightings, both Tony Blair and George Bush proclaimed on 30 May that two trailers found in Iraq were mobile biological laboratories. “We have already found two trailers, both of which we believe were used for the production of biological weapons,” said Mr Blair. Mr Bush went further: “Those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons – they’re wrong. We found them.” It is now almost certain that the vehicles were for the production of hydrogen for weather balloons, just as the Iraqis claimed – and that they were exported by Britain.
2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd.
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